|Ross Brawn is expected to replace Domenicali at Ferrari. And it was Brawn who oversaw the design of the current dominating Mercedes.|
(GMM) Ross Brawn and Ferrari have played down the former Mercedes boss' visit to Maranello this week.
Specialist Ferrari journalist Leo Turrini on Tuesday revealed that the 59-year-old Briton, who was Ferrari's technical director during the ultra-successful Michael Schumacher years, was at the team's headquarters and Fiorano test track.
Brawn, however, played down suggestions of an impending return to F1 and Ferrari, telling Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport his trip to Italy this week was "never a secret".
And he told the BBC that he was at Ferrari "with a group of friends as part of a tour of Italy, no more than that!"
Brawn said the group, who are also visiting "as many vineyards as possible", drove Ferrari road cars around the Fiorano track.
A Ferrari spokesman confirmed that Brawn's visit was "simply an Italian fantasy tour with friends, scheduled for some time".
05/06/14 (GMM) Specialist Ferrari journalist and author Leo Turrini on Tuesday reports that Ross Brawn has this week been at Maranello and Fiorano.
Turrini, who according to F1 colleague Mathias Brunner "knows everything when it comes to Ferrari" and recently predicted Stefano Domenicali's departure, said the recently-retired former Mercedes boss was seen at the fabled Italian team's headquarters and test circuit.
Brawn, 59, has played down the prospects of a return to formula one, but many insiders believe the F1 paddock has not seen the last of the highly-rated Briton.
As technical director, he was a key player at Ferrari during the highly-successful Michael Schumacher era, spanning multiple years and titles.
Turrini joked on his Quotidiano blog that Brawn may just be in the Italian region to "buy bananas" or "buy a Ferrari", but there is another obvious hypothesis.
"Marco Mattiacci is a very intelligent person," he wrote, "and perhaps also very persuasive."
The mounting frustration of Fernando Alonso is believed to have been critical in the departure of Stefano Domenicali from Ferrari.
Domenicali's exit from the Scuderia was announced on Monday, but the writing has been on the wall since last Sunday when the team's tepid performance in the Bahrain GP prompted President Luca di Montezemolo to leave the arena long before the checkered flag had fallen.
Despite the appointment of Kimi Raikkonen alongside Alonso in Ferrari's all-champion driver line-up, the team are yet to score a podium finish this season and trail runaway leaders Mercedes by 78 points in the Constructors' Championship after just three rounds of the nascent 2014 campaign.
Raikkonen remains the last driver to win the Drivers' World Championship in Ferrari colors, with the Finn's 2007 success occurring one year before Domenicali replaced Jean Todt as Team Principal. While Alonso and Raikkonen have reined in their frustration in public, it's believed that their angst at the woeful displays of the F14 T was pivotal in Domenicali's exit after 23 years' service.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, the patience of 'Alonso and Raikkonen' was 'approaching dangerous levels' with the team locked into a 'crisis.'
As the current President and CEO of Ferrari North America, Mattiacci is a relative unknown in F1 circles, leading many to suspect that the Italian may only prove to be a brief stand-in before Ross Brawn, out of work since leaving Mercedes six months ago, returns to Maranello.
04/15/14 (GMM) Within hours of Ferrari's confirmation that Stefano Domenicali has left the team, Mercedes announced its own split with technical director Bob Bell.
Irishman Bell, who worked with Fernando Alonso when the Spaniard won his titles at Renault, only joined Mercedes in 2011, so speculation he might be in line to be Domenicali's longer-term replacement at Ferrari is obvious.
Domenicali's immediate replacement is Ferrari North America chief Marco Mattiacci, who although close to Luca di Montezemolo has no experience within the F1 paddock.
It is believed Bell is staying in F1, as he will only officially leave Mercedes at the end of November. This fits with the customary 'gardening leave' served by team personnel when they switch allegiances.
Mercedes said only that he will pursue "new challenges outside the company".
But while Bell is probably not in the frame at Ferrari, F1 insiders do agree that Mattiacci's appointment is only temporary.
Autosprint correspondent Cesare Maria Mannucci suggested he will perform only "a transitional role", perhaps to eventually be replaced by Gerhard Berger.
Tobias Gruner, writing for Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, added: "The Italian rumor mill has been speculating about a return for Ross Brawn."