Dec 17, 2008

Sport - F1;Ferrari boss would not swap Hamilton for Massa

ROME: Ferrari would not swap Brazilian driver Felipe Massa for McLaren's Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, president Luca di Montezemolo has said.

Hamilton, 23, who became the youngest world title-winner after he edged Massa by snatching fifth place on the final bend of November's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, said last week that he would never leave McLaren.

"Hamilton is a great driver, capable of coming close to the world title in his first year in Formula One and winning it in the second," Montezemolo said on Wednesday.

"But with all respect, I wouldn't swap him for Felipe Massa.

"If Massa did not win it this year, we (the team) were to blame. It would have been normal for him to win. He didn't manage to because of our mistakes."

Montezemolo added that there would have been an exodus from F1 if proposals for a standard engine had been approved.

The plan was not included in cost-cutting measures approved last week to help the sport after the global economic crisis led to Honda's withdrawal.

"If the standard engine had gone through for all teams, at least four or five carmakers would have abandoned (F1)," he said. "I mean four or five plus Ferrari, i.e. all of them."

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