Prancing or tip-toeing at Ferrari?
“I’ve decided to go for a young manager I strongly believe in, and on a person from the Ferrari family, thus avoiding me going around the world looking for some mercenary.”
Such was the rationale of Luca Cordero Montezemolo in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, on replacing Stefano Domenicali with Formula One virgin Marco Mattiacci.
Ironically, Ferrari’s last period of success was precisely the work of a number of mercenaries (namely Michael Schumacher, Jean Todt, Rory Byrne and Ross Brawn) without Italian passports and had spent little time waxing Fiats on weekends. For a while now, Ferrari’s inward-thinking attitude has resembled that of its modus operandi during the late 80’s and early 90’s. Heavily political, segregated and uncommunicative departments between chassis and design (particularly during production of the F641) lead to much finger-pointing and firing.
It’s a legacy that Fernando Alonso is acutely aware of, whose own patience must surely be beginning to wane with the Maranello outfit. Nevertheless, the team’s talisman is calling for unity and co-operation in the wake of Domenicali’s departure.
“I think we need to give him (Mattiacci) time and try to see how he settles down,” Alonso said. “It is too early to say if it will be very good or very bad. We need to make sure we have the facilities ready, or technical staff ready and put him in a condition to feel comfortable from day one.”
As the CEO of Ferrari’s North American operations, Mattiacci originally moved to Ferrari from Jaguar in 1999 and worked in the Middle East before heading the product launch for Maserati in the United States; his management skills helping Ferrari increase its sales in the North American market by 20 per cent.
Minus a string of fraud charges, Mattiacci’s appointment isn’t unlike that of Flavio Briatore; who was promoted by Luciano Benetton to manage the Benetton F1 Team in 1990 after setting up numerous successful franchises for the clothes manufacturer in the United States. Briatore proved that management skills were more than a match for technical prowess when it came to achieving results – although in the present case of Ferrari’s inadequate power unit it couldn’t hurt!
Most importantly however, is the confidence instilled in Mattiacci by Ferrari’s senior management. This will be key in making quick decisions in an environment that waits for no man. Luca Di Montezemolo has pledged to attend more races to ensure Marco’s smooth transition into the team. A good idea in theory, but as history has shown, Luca skill as a master of histrionics will do little to unite the team with their new principal; nashing his teeth and flipping his meticulously cultivated mane whenever trouble strikes will merely coerce free-thinking into second-guessing.
Ironically, Marco’s time at Jaguar will have given him a good idea of how not to run an automotive operation. Overspending from Ford and a suffocating blame culture heavily curtailed both the commercial and racing side of Jaguar to a point that was still seen during the rudimentary days of Red Bull Racing. A mixture of quiet segregation and gratuitous smugness (born from scant success) had to be eradicated before the hard graft of rebuilding the mid-field team into a championship contender could begin.
As such, Mattiacci should be able to direct his considerable talents towards Ferrari’s racing arm with unjaded resolution. He’ll need it in spades, because results will be demanded sooner rather than later. Montezemolo is fast running out of people to blame. Just hide the crockery while he’s in the garage boys.
Images courtesy Scuderia Ferrari and Octane Photographic.
Trent Price is an amateur race driver, former V8 race coach and FIA Accredited journalist from Melbourne, Australia. A former Race Editor for GP Week and contributor for ESPN, Trent is now the Editor of the WEC/Formula E magazine E-Racing; www.e-racingmag.com