Maurizio Arrivabene thinks rumours predicting his demise were designed to destabilise Ferrari.
In Barcelona, following president Sergio Marchionne’s insistence that the Maranello team immediately end its winning drought, rumours swirled that Ferrari was contemplating ousting Arrivabene.
Marchionne, however, rubbished those rumours when he appeared in the paddock ahead of the Spanish grand prix on Sunday, which was won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
“What exactly did Marchionne say?” Arrivabene enquired.
Told by a reporter that the Fiat and Ferrari president had expressed confidence in the leadership team, the Italian added: “There’s your answer.
“I don’t pay attention to all these rumours. Those who create them have one goal — to create a tense atmosphere in the team.
“Of course this is not helpful, but we have to keep concentrated on what we are doing, without being distracted by these rumours,” Arrivabene added.
However, the pressure on Arrivabene did not ease on Sunday, as even after Mercedes’ double-DNF, it was a Red Bull rather than a Ferrari that won the grand prix.
“Of course, congratulations to Red Bull and Max Verstappen,” he said.
“But I see this not as a podium for us but a wasted opportunity,” added Arrivabene, after Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel finished second and third.
“Our rivals Mercedes were out and we were not there to exploit it.
“So our problem now is to solve the mystery that in certain conditions of temperature our car does not properly exploit the soft tyres in qualifying.
“We think we might have understood the technical reason so in the next few days, during the test to be held here in Barcelona, we will try to find the solution,” he added.
Indeed, the ever-demanding president Marchionne agreed that Ferrari has plenty of work ahead of it.
“The important thing is that we have to improve the car a lot,” he said.
“We have two difficult races now, Monaco and Canada and we must make improvements to the car quickly.”
But when asked if Ferrari can still win the 2016 even though it has now lost not only to Mercedes but also Red Bull, Marchionne insisted: “Yes, of course.”
He said both Mercedes drivers failing to finish on Sunday gives Ferrari a points boost.
“It helps a lot,” said Marchionne. “It helped Mercedes in the past, with all the problems we had in the races after Australia.
“I’m sorry for Mercedes that it (Sunday’s crash) happened, but it gives us a deep breath to move on.”
The famous Italian press, however, is not at all happy.
“I would urge everyone at Ferrari to put the champagne for this double podium back in the fridge,” wrote La Repubblica’s Marco Mensura.
“In two years of Ferrari desperately chasing Mercedes, Red Bull won on the day that Mercedes imploded.
“No, Ferrari has nothing to be happy about,” he insisted.
© RIF | GMM