Ferrari has admitted it is entering the 2015 season on the back foot.
The fabled Italian team has swept clean the figureheads of Ferrari’s disastrous start to the turbo V6 era, having pushed hard for the rule change but ending 2014 without a single win.
Facing reporters on Monday, new bosses Sergio Marchionne and Maurizio Arrivabene admitted that reacting to Ferrari’s problems has even delayed the 2015 car.
Marchionne said key “mistakes” were made in 2014, and one of them may have been appointing the inexperienced Marco Mattiacci as axed Stefano Domenicali’s successor.
“I have enormous respect for what he has done for the company in the commercial area,” the new Ferrari president said, “but F1 is something else.
“He was still learning the job but in the situation Ferrari was in, we could not rebuild the team waiting for the boss to gain experience,” Marchionne added.
On the personnel front, the shakeup has been revolutionary. Ferrari confirmed on Monday that the latest arrival is an engineer who in 2014 helped Lewis Hamilton win the world championship — Jock Clear.
The team is now negotiating with Mercedes for an early end to the Brackley veteran’s ‘gardening leave’ so that he can take over from the departed Pat Fry soon.
Mattiaci’s successor Arrivabene, meanwhile, denied speculation Bob Bell, Adrian Newey or Ross Brawn will be the next high-profile arrivals at Maranello.
“The team is there,” he insisted. “There is no great news to be announced, no surprises. We have to believe in the people we have.”
But president Marchionne said that while the radical shakeup was taking place, the nuts and bolts of the design of the 2015 car were put behind schedule.
“Unfortunately,” he said, “god does not build racing cars.”
He said “mistakes” were made in the basic foundations of the 2015 project, which is now essentially set as the car has passed all of the mandatory FIA crash tests.
“The previous team leadership made strategic decisions that I disagreed with,” Marchionne is quoted by Italian publications.
“Decisions relating to the car of 2014 and the preparation for 2015. For me, considering how we finished, how much we spent and where we are, in short, it was a mistake.
“That is why we are now coming from behind because of choices made by other people. 2015 will be a difficult year that will put a strain on the whole team,” La Repubblica quoted him as saying.
So for Sebastian Vettel’s first season in red, expectations have been set historically low for F1’s most famous and arguably best-resourced team.
“If we win two races, it would be a success,” said Arrivabene. “Three is a triumph.”
And Marchionne quipped: “Four, we are in paradise.”
© RIF | GMM