Latest F1 news in brief – Tuesday

  • Arrivabene

    Ferrari admits 'mistakes' have hurt 2015 car

  • Ferrari not ruling out 2016 seat for Raikkonen
  • Ferrari changes tune on track testing issue
  • Montezemolo as F1 boss not 'fair play' – Marchionne
  • New law threatens Monza's F1 future
  • F1 risks racing in front of empty grandstands – Arrivabene
  • Vettel's gamble is ours too, say Ferrari bosses
  • Ferrari announces changes to Scuderia
  • Ferrari's annual Christmas lunch

Ferrari admits 'mistakes' have hurt 2015 car
(GMM) 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.

Mattiacci's successor Maurizio 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."

2015 is shaping up to be a make-or-break year for Kimi Raikkonen

Ferrari not ruling out 2016 seat for Raikkonen
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen will need to prove in 2015 that he deserves another year at Ferrari.

That is the warning of new Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene, following recent reports that the Finnish driver wants to stay at Maranello not only next year but perhaps also in 2016.

35-year-old Raikkonen, however, struggled notably on his return to the Maranello team from Lotus this season, with a points haul one third the size of Fernando Alonso's and not a single podium appearance.

"Last season was difficult for Kimi," Arrivabene is quoted by Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper, "but that does not mean that he has lost his speed.

"He is a former world champion, and more importantly he won the title driving a Ferrari.

"I want to emphasize that next season Kimi needs the time to show that he is capable, and after that it will be possible to make a decision about the future."

Raikkonen's teammate in 2015 will be his friend Sebastian Vettel, F1's quadruple consecutive world champion for Red Bull between 2010 and 2013.

"For sure," Arrivabene insisted, "drivers are not a problem for us."

Ferrari changes tune on track testing issue
(GMM) Ferrari has changed its tune over the issue of track testing in formula one.

Historically, since the sport drastically cut down on the allowed amount of private and official testing on cost grounds, Ferrari has argued stridently against the new era.

But Maranello is now run by a new president, Fiat-Chrysler's Sergio Marchionne, alongside the former Marlboro executive and new team boss Maurizio Arrivabene.

On Monday as they sat with reporters, it became clear Ferrari's stance about testing has dramatically changed.

"We have talked about it," Marchionne said, "but the tests on the track will not be reintroduced."

Ferrari's new stance might be related to vast investments the team has made since the dawning of the 'no testing' era, for example in the realm of state-of-the-art simulators.

And an all-new facility at Maranello will be opened in mid-January, Germany's Sport Bild revealed.

But Marchionne explained: "The costs associated with this (allowing more free testing) would be detrimental to the already stretched budgets of more than one team.

"Having this kind of activity would only increase the scope of what is already a very serious situation for a number of teams," he added, "in what is a less than encouraging global situation."

Montezemolo as F1 boss not 'fair play' – Marchionne
(GMM) Ferrari has denied blocking the appointment of former long-time president Luca di Montezemolo to be the new chairman of the F1 Group.

With current chairman Peter Brabeck reportedly wanting to step down for health reasons, it was claimed Ferrari's recently-ousted Montezemolo was the favorite for the role along with former Diageo chief Paul Walsh.

But international reports have suggested that Montezemolo, despite now stepping up as a non-executive director on the Formula One Group board, had his potential chairmanship blocked by the 'veto' enjoyed by the new Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne.

But Italian reports quote Marchionne as denying he 'vetoed' Montezemolo's move to the top job.

"In the F1 Group there is only one president, and that is Ecclestone," he said.

"Ferrari can only be opposed to that appointment.

"As for Montezemolo, there was the proposal, but if there was the opposition of Ferrari it would only be for reasons of expediency with our competitors, as he led Ferrari for 23 years," Marchionne explained.

"It was about fair play. It was like if suddenly I went to be the president of Volkswagen," he explained.

"I would also have opposed the appointment of Jean Todt to the FIA for the same reasons. That choice had no consequences, but that does not mean that it was correct.

"I would have opposed it on principle," Marchionne added.

As for 67-year-old Montezemolo, who was ousted in 2014 and subsequently became the Alitalia chief, Marchionne commented: "He did a great job and I respect him a lot.

"But the world has changed, just as the world will have changed when it is time for me to go."

Marchionne was also asked on Monday about suggestions F1's V6 engine formula could be scrapped altogether for 2016.

"(That is) difficult," he answered, "as it must be decided by March and the costs would be high.

"We will keep these power units, as I think they are called, trying to get more and more power from them."

Is historic Monza's future on the F1 calendar under threat? Or is Bernie Ecclestone just up to his old tricks?

New law threatens Monza's F1 future
(GMM) The future of the historic grand prix at fabled Monza has taken a blow this week, according to reports in the Italian press.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone warned earlier this year that the existing Italian grand prix contract, running only until 2016, is a commercial "disaster".

And now, more bad news for Monza has emerged from the government, Italian newspapers including La Stampa reveal.

It is about the so-called 'legge di stabilita', or stability law, in which a decision of the senate has made the collapse of the Italian grand prix beyond 2016 reportedly more likely.

Reports said an amendment of the law allowing a tax exemption to the tune of about EUR 20 million has been ruled out.

Politician Fabrizio Sala is quoted as saying: "The stability law penalizes Monza and its Autodrome, putting at risk the future of the formula one grand prix".

But former F1 driver Ivan Capelli, who this year became a director of the automobile club of Milan, vowed to fight for the Italian grand prix.

"Our commitment to find the resources needed is clear," he insisted.

F1 risks racing in front of empty grandstands – Arrivabene
New Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has warned that Formula One is at risk of alienating the public if it does not act soon to bring the sport closer to fans.

Arrivabene has taken over from Marco Mattiacci at Maranello but has a long background in the sport through Philip Morris' Marlboro sponsorship of Ferrari. After a year in which spectator numbers have dwindled, he believes F1 could end up racing in front of empty grandstands if it does not make an effort to appeal to race fans.

"There is a problem over the appeal of the races," he said. "We must keep working to give people spectacle and emotions. We must work to bring Formula One closer to the fans, otherwise we risk ending up racing on our own in empty circuits."

Earlier this year F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone said the sport was not interested in attracting young fans, a view that Arrivabene is at odds with.

"We must know how to get the most out of the tools used by the new generation, which is how to attract young people and create the chances for fans to interact more with the stars of our sport. The Thursday of a Grand Prix weekend could, for example, be better exploited." ESPN.CO.UK

Sebastian Vettel appears to be retooling Ferrari to his liking

Vettel's gamble is ours too, say Ferrari bosses
When Michael Schumacher joined Ferrari in 1996, many wondered if the German had made a dreadful mistake. While it took five seasons before the German finally won the title – the first of five consecutive championships with the Maranello outfit – his recruitment was just one phase of a major overhaul for the team as, amongst others, new boss Jean Todt brought Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne on board from Benetton.

As Sebastian Vettel seeks to emulate his hero's success, his move to Ferrari is also just one part of a major restructuring at Maranello, and whilst his employers don't expect miracles from the outset they are looking to the German to do his bit.

"I don't think he's naïve," said Sergio Marchionne at today's end of year press conference and lunch, "he knows our level of performance but this is the power of Ferrari: it manages to attract people even just based on its potential.

"Our job for 2015 is to set this potential free," he continued. "Vettel's big gamble is ours too, to reconstruct the team and to make it grow. The work we have undertaken alongside Maurizio is to give guarantees to this team, to bring about clear decisions and to have faith in the people who make up the team."

"Vettel brings with him the experience of winning," added team principal Maurizio Arrivabene, "he has his four world titles and the enthusiasm to work together. He certainly wants to make the Scuderia grow alongside us. Having said that, even though drivers may be luxury employees they are still employees and they must work together with others. I think Sebastian is well equipped for the job that awaits him.

"He gets on very well with Kimi and this is a positive element," he added, "even if I hope that they won't get on quite so well on the track, because the rule must remain that your team-mate is your main opponent." pitpass.com

Ferrari announces changes to Scuderia
Within a few days from his arrival Maurizio Arrivabene, Managing Director of Ferrari’s Gestione Sportiva and Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari, has restructured his team with a flatter structure and clear assignment of responsibilities.

James Allison is the Technical Director with two Italian engineers and home grown Scuderia talent reporting to him: Chief Designer Simone Resta and Power Unit Director Mattia Binotto, the latter will be supported by Chief Designer Power Unit Lorenzo Sassi, among others. Furthermore James Allison will direct track engineering activities ad interim.

Therefore he will be responsible for all technical aspects of delivering the Scuderia’s drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, as well as the newly appointed test driver and third driver Esteban Gutiérrez, with the most competitive Formula 1 car possible.

Furthermore, the Scuderia’s Formula 1 activities will be managed by Massimo Rivola, while GT and Corse Clienti racing will be managed by Antonio Coletta.

The Ferrari Driver Academy will still be managed by Luca Baldisserri, reporting directly to Maurizio Arrivabene. In addition, Arrivabene will manage the newly founded Commercial Department of the Scuderia ad interim. Renato Bisignani, who until now was the head of Scuderia Ferrari’s Press Office, will join the new department as Marketing Manager and Acquisition.

The press office of the Scuderia will be run by Alberto Antonini, a seasoned Formula 1 journalist and contributor to newspapers and magazines as well as TV commentator for RAI and Sky Italia. Antonini will also oversee the newly created Scuderia Ferrari digital team.

Nikolas Tombazis and Pat Fry have left the Scuderia.

Arrivabene and Marchionne meet the press

Ferrari's annual Christmas lunch
This morning at Ferrari's base in Maranello there was a press conference and end-of-year lunch. President Sergio Marchionne and Managing Director and the Scuderia's Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene spoke to Formula 1 journalists from Italy and abroad before meeting up with them for lunch and to share Christmas wishes.

After a thought to Jules Bianchi, Sergio Marchionne kicked off proceedings by saluting those present, stressing: "I will try not to talk about 2014 because it has been a year to forget. So instead let's talk about the future; we will look towards 2015 with some optimism." Replying to one of the first questions, Marchionne confirmed: "2015 will be a year of reconstruction. In the last few days we have made some sharp decisions on the make-up of the team and we know exactly who the key people are for development. We have taken away all the baggage of uncertainty which harmed the start of the work on the 2015 project."

For his part, Maurizio Arrivabene said: "I bring experience that has matured in my last company, the fact of knowing how to motivate people and to get the best out of them. In the company I've seen plenty of will to get things done: I am here to give the people my trust and to streamline the team. We won't get anywhere individually, we have to work as a group."

The subject then turned to Sebastian Vettel, the spirit of his arrival and what he can expect of 2015. President Marchionne replied: "I don't think he's naive, he knows our level of performance but this is the power of Ferrari: it manages to attract people even just based on its potential. Our job for 2015 is to set this potential free. Vettel's big gamble is ours too, to reconstruct the team and to make it grow. The work we have undertaken alongside Maurizio is to give guarantees to this team, to bring about clear decisions and to have faith in the people who make up the team."

Speaking of Sebastian, Arrivabene added: "Vettel brings with him the experience of winning, he has his four world titles and the enthusiasm to work together. He certainly wants to make the Scuderia grow alongside us. Having said that, even though drivers may be luxury employees they are still employees and they must work together with others. I think Sebastian is well equipped for the job that awaits him. He gets on very well with Kimi and this is a positive element, even if I hope that they won't get on quite so well on the track, because the rule must remain that your team-mate is your main opponent."

There was also time to talk about the future of Formula 1, a debate in which Scuderia Ferrari is always involved: "There is a problem over the appeal of the races," said Arrivabene. "We must keep working to give people spectacle and emotions. We must work to bring Formula 1 closer to the fans, otherwise we risk ending up racing on our own in empty circuits. We must know how to get the most out of the tools used by the new generation, which is how to attract young people and create the chances for fans to interact more with the stars of our sport. The Thursday of a Grand Prix weekend could, for example, be better exploited."

2015 will be a year of reconstruction and recovery for the Scuderia, and to convey this idea Arrivabene set a minimum target: to win at least two Grands Prix. President Marchionne concluded with these words: "I can guarantee the team is putting in a phenomenal effort. We have people here who are giving their absolute best and they have my full support. The important thing for us now is to give them courage and all the resources necessary to move forward and make the Scuderia grow."

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