Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has re-ignited the customer car debate by claiming it would help facilitate the return of an Italian presence to the Formula 1 grid.
Di Montezemolo and Ferrari have been staunch advocates of the idea of third cars, saying as recently as November that their support was in the interests of the sport in general.
Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, the Ferrari president said it would also be an ideal way of promoting an Italian presence on the F1 grid. Australia will represent the first F1 grand prix since the Nurburgring in 1973 at which there will be no Italian entries.
Asked if Ferrari could be interested in promoting Italian drivers, di Montezemolo replied: "It's a long story – let's see what comes out of the Ferrari Driver Academy.
"The real problem is that there's no opportunity for young drivers. Let's say I come up with three super strong Italians coming from minor formulas. What is next? I can't have them testing with the F1 car because testing is banned. Making them race with the 458 GT is a different job.
"I have an idea: giving a minor team a Ferrari from the previous year and requiring them to field a young Italian. That would be fantastic..."
Di Montezemolo also advocated an increase in mid-season testing, saying that the discussion extended beyond simply wanting to test and improve this year's F2012 after an underwhelming preseason.
"Ferrari has a car that needs to be further assessed, discovered and driven," he explained. "Tests are few and public, unfortunately. I'd wait a bit before coming to conclusions with such a long season ahead.
"It's a wider discussion we'll engage at a later stage. I don't like F1 on the decline, with no testing and no technical innovation. It's good to have big attention toward costs, but without sacrificing technology and development. We can't only reduce."
The idea of third cars has not got much support from elsewhere in the paddock, however, with McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh affirming his team opposed the idea.
"We don't think customer cars are right for the sport," Whitmarsh said. "It is the different teams and constructors who construct and manufacture their cars that differentiate F1 from other forms of motorsport.
"There are a lot of financial challenges in our sport and it might be that one day it becomes necessary; that for our sport to survive there would be a customer car allowance. Forgetting our position for a moment, though, philosophically I don't think it's the right thing."