Fer­rari in flux as Domeni­cali quits

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

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

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