Fiat Auto’s Ferrari subsidiary made a profit of R186 million last year, but the number could have been almost twice as big had it not been for F1 kingpins Luca di Montezemolo and Jean Todt.

Fiat Auto’s Ferrari subsidiary made a profit of R186 million last year, but the number could have been almost twice as big had it not been for F1 kingpins Luca di Montezemolo and Jean Todt.

According to , Ferrari last year handed its two F1 kingpins a combined bonus package of R128,2 million.

Last year, Ferrari SpA boosted group sales 14,1 per cent to R10,32 billion by selling 7 536 Ferraris and 3 300 Maseratis. According to reports, consolidated operating profits rose 13,7 per cent to R606,3 million. Yet despite these increases, net profits slumped by a staggering 54 per cent compared with 2001.

Two one-off bonuses - an R156,5-million payout to Ferrari chairman and chief executive Luca di Montezemolo and a R25,8-million bonus to Jean Todt, the Scuderia’s team principal - go far towards explaining the shortfall.

The payments recognised the two men's contribution to the "company's prestige and value," a Ferrari spokesman was quoted as saying. Ferrari also suggested that its enlarged budget for research and development may have contributed to the loss in net profits.

The massive pay packages come at a time when the Fiat group is in the middle of a financial crisis. Fiat owns 56 per cent of Ferrari and has been struggling to stay afloat while trying to find further investment to offset its own massive operating losses in 2002.

CARtoday.com reported recently that the embattled Italian manufacturer was pressing for a put option placed on GM three years ago which would have the American automotive giant buy the remaining 80 per cent of Fiat Auto that it does not already own.

Original article from Car