Di Montezemolo dedicates HoF induction to Schumacher

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Former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has dedicated his induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame to seven-time F1 champion Michael Schumacher.

"I do not know if I would make it to get this award without him," di Montezemolo told the gathering in Detroit at the end of July.

Schumacher is currently still recuperating from traumatic head injuries sustained in an accident while out skiing with his son at the resort of Meribel in France in December 2013.

He was subsequently moved from a nearly specialist hospital to a custom-built medical suite at his home in Gland, Switzerland in July 2014. There have been no further updates regarding his condition, but di Montezemolo alluded to it in his induction speech last week.

"[This award] is dedicated to him, because he is trying to win his toughest race," said di Montezemolo, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"He was not only a business partner, but above all a friend with whom I shared much more. To know that he now lies in a bed for such a long time is very sad."

Schumacher was already the lead driver at Maranello by the time di Montezemolo took over as president of Ferrari in 1997, where he remained for 23 years until he stepped down last October to take over Italy's struggling national airline Alitalia.

Di Montezemolo was keen to pay due credit to the contributions of the other members of the Ferrari 'dream team' during the Schumacher era. "If we won a lot of it is also about people like Jean Todt, Stefano Domenicali, Ross Brawn and many others."

He went on to have a sly dig at the current kings of F1, Mercedes: "Ferrari technology is 'hot.' In Germany things are very good, perfect, but sometimes are too grey. But when I see the red of our machines, that's another thing."

Although he's now left the world of motorsport, it was clear from his acceptance speech that the 67-year-old still has great love and interest in motor racing, and that he hadn't stopped thinking about ways to improve F1 in particular.

"More speed, lower costs, change of regulations to make them more understandable for fans and improve the show," he suggested, adding that the month-long summer break was also important - and not just to give drivers and team personnel a holiday.

"You can not run the Grand Prix in July or August at two in the afternoon when people are on the beach," he pointed out. "And then it takes more contact between drivers and the public."

Also recognised by the Automotive Hall of Fame in this year's ceremony was veteran team owner Roger Penske. Currently best known for his successful NASCAR and IndyCar operations, Penske previously ran a Formula One team from 1974 until 1976 with drivers Mark Donohue and John Watson. The team picked up one Grand Prix race win in Austria before Penske decided to return home to the US and sold off his interest in the Formula One operation to a German businessman.

Penske - himself a former driver who was named 1961's Sports Car Club of America Driver of the Year by Sports Illustrated - has previously been inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1995.

Additional HoF inductees were Elwood Hayes, co-founder of the Haynes-Apperson Automobile Company; Rodney O’Neal, former CEO and president of Delphi Automotive; and Ratan N. Tata, founder of Tata Motors.

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