Ferrari in flux as Domenicali quits
New boss but no quick fixes for ailing team
Ferrari’s struggle to reclaim their position at the pinnacle of Formula 1 has led to seismic changes at the very top of the organisation.
Stefano Domenicali resigned in the wake of the team’s disappointing performance in Bahrain, where Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen could manage only ninth and tenth places respectively. He has been replaced by Marco Mattiacci, the former head of Ferrari’s road-car operations in North America.
Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo has also made it clear he will have a closer involvement in operations at the F1 team. F1 Racing understands that both Ross Brawn and Flavio Briatore made it known to Ferrari in the days following Domenicali’s resignation that they were available should the Scuderia be interested in taking either of them on as a replacement. Brawn has also been seen visiting Maranello.
But parent company Fiat wanted to put their own man in charge. Mattiacci is a friend of John Elkann, the highly rated president of Fiat and grandson of its iconic former boss Gianni Agnelli. Fiat CEO, Sergio Marchionne, who is credited with turning around the company’s fortunes in recent years, is also a supporter.
Mattiacci has said that when he received the call from Di Montezemolo, at 5.58am at his home in New York on the Friday after Bahrain, offering him the job, he had initially thought he was joking.
He has spoken of his “humility” and determination to “work very hard”. As for his lack of experience, Mattiacci said: “Sometimes you can bring a new perspective.” He also admitted: “I need to prove I have the level of Ferrari and F1.”
Mattiacci has two fundamental tasks – to work out what is missing at Ferrari and to build a relationship with their biggest single asset, Fernando Alonso. Neither task will be easy, and the change of team principal only increases the uncertainty at what was already a time of ux at Ferrari, with James Allison less than a year into his role as technical director.
Keeping Alonso – now four frustrating years into his Ferrari career – on board during that period will be critical. Alonso has demonstrated once again just how much he gives to Ferrari, by completely overshadowing new team-mate Kimi Räikkönen in the rst four races.
It is no secret that the relationship between Alonso and Ferrari has hit a rocky patch. Di Montezemolo publicly admonished Alonso last summer, in the wake of his criticisms of the car and his dalliances with Red Bull, but it is believed that the relationship between Alonso and Domenicali had also taken a dive.
There has been speculation that Domenicali was effectively sacked, but in fact he did actually resign. It seems he had had enough of Di Montezemolo’s interference, and the president’s stance on the new rules, which he had initially backed. Tired of it all, Domenicali wanted to stop, and decided to jump before he received the push he was expecting.
On the surface, his departure has only strengthened Di Montezemolo’s position as overlord of the team. But the team principal now has a hotline to the very top of Fiat. Can the two work together to increase Ferrari’s competitiveness? Or will Ferrari be consumed by internal politics? At Maranello, these are uncertain times.
Marco Mattiacci will have his work cut out as Ferrari’s new team principal