Ferrari update: Dyer falls on sword, Martin head of Strategy
Scuderia Ferrari
Ferrari update: Dyer falls on sword, Martin head of Strategy
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Jan 2011   |  7:37 pm GMT  |  47 comments

Since I posted this morning Ferrari has announced the major changes that team boss Stefano Domenicali hinted at.

According to the team’s website, “Neil Martin takes on the role of heading up the new Operations Research department. A 38 year old Englishman, Martin previously worked for Red Bull and prior to that McLaren and he will now report directly to Technical Director, Aldo Costa.

“At the same time, Costa’s deputy, Pat Fry will, in addition to his current role, take on the job of head of race track engineering. Up until yesterday, this position was held by Chris Dyer and his role within the company will be redefined in the next few days.”

So as predicted Dyer falls on the sword for the strategy mistake in Abu Dhabi.

Meanwhile Neil Martin is an interesting appointment. He comes from the financial services field originally and wrote a programme which he realised had uses for F1 strategy. He showed it to McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh who hired him on the strength of it.

He was headhunted by Red Bull and headed up their strategy unit until last year when he promptly left the team. Last summer there were suggestions he would be joining Ferrari but I got a categorical denial from Ferrari when I asked. On the face of it, it seems that the events of Abu Dhabi have prompted a rethink. Ferrari say this is not the case and that Martin was hired before Abu Dhabi.

Although Ferrari say that Martin’s role is not specifically to run race strategies, it is more of a strategic overview role looking at ways of improving operations across the board, his appointment will also have been at the behest of Fry with whom he worked at McLaren. It takes up part of the role Fry was due to have and has been done because Fry now puts his head in the lion’s mouth as head of track operations, making the big calls, an area where Ferrari has struggled a few times in recent years.

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Dyer being made the scapegoat for Stefano’s failure.


I don’t know who was to balme for that dicision but at last such silly mistakes should be excluded in the future…Everyone has mistakes but that wasn’t the only silly mistake in Ferrari’s race strategy and pit stops. After Schumacher’s era probably Ferrari’s perfect race strategy’s turned to be disastrous ridiculous especially previous seasons I hope this new system would guarantee that such foolish mistakes wouldn’t be made in the future.

Webber made stop for damaged tire and it was silly for Ferrari to make pit the for the next lap, when Alonso had good pace


I feel sympathy for Dyer, especially so, when I read in a separate interview that Domenicalli says of the person who made the mistake(s), quote:

“…… . We will put whoever has to take delicate decisions in a position to have all the tools not to make mistakes again.”

That would appear to at least imply that Dyer, did not at that time, have all the right tools at his disposal. If that is the case, then perhaps this latest decision was made in haste.

Ghost in the Ruins

Ehh, typical management solution. Someone has to take the fall and at the end of the day Dyer is accountable in his position as the chief engineer. He probably didn’t make the call and it’s not altogether fair that he takes the blame but that’s how big corporations work. He’s responsible for his employees.

It hasn’t been said whether he’s been fired from Ferrari, I’m sure they’ll want to find another role for him, and if they cant agree then he’ll find work at some other team. He’s a good engineer.


I sure hope Ferrari thought long and hard before making this decision, and that it is not just another knee jerk reaction: this will be Chris Dyer’s 3rd new role in 2 years – first he was transferred from being Raikkonen’s engineer after ’08 (when rumor has it they fell out w/ each other), after that he was made head of trackside operations in early ’09 and now he will once again have new role that is TBA. Surely this lack of continuity can’t be good for the team, but we’ll see.

I have to admit, right after Abu Dhabi I was livid at the team for trashing Fernando’s championship bid. But after calming down, I realized their main fault that weekend wasn’t really the botched pit-stop, but rather they had the slowest car amongst the top 3 teams. So maybe a strengthening/reshuffling of the design dept. is in order instead? Then again, I always thought Aldo Costa should have been sacked after 2009, given the disaster that was the F60; but look what happened the year after (2010): he produced and developed the F10 – a package that was competitively quick (Turkey aside) and very reliable. So let’s see how Mr. Costa deals with the new regs for 2011, hopefully he produces something like the F10 and not another F60.

In addressing part 1 of this article, James; I think it’s high time for Stefano Domenicalli to really step it up and make more of those ruthless/difficult decisions – no matter how unpopular they may be (the way he did at Hockenheim). For example, he should stop being so hesitant in defining Felipe Massa’s role: If Ferrari did hire Alonso to be their next world champion, then they should be prepared to give him everything and anything he requires to achieve that objective – even if it will inevitably mean relegating Massa to a supporting role. Otherwise they are only hindering the Spaniard. With team orders being permitted again next year, Domenicalli’s life has just been made easier. So he should stop being tentative and just lay down the law.

Back in the Schumacher era, the powers that ran Ferrari didn’t give a damn about what people thought of them and they just did what they had to do. The result: 5 WDCs and 6WCCs. But nowadays, emotion and public opinion seem to define Ferrari’s decision making. That can’t be good.


So how many ex McLaren employees are now currently working for Ferrari?


most of them from Ron’s 2007 team :)) Tells you Ferrari thought that outfit was pretty good


50% of their driver line up, LOL!!


It’s always been like that..and vice versa


Yes, but Ferrari is always judged more harshly than other teams fir some reason.


It’s interesting how myths persist, provided they suit the interests of the powers that be.

Although the early pit stop looks like a mistake at first sight, in fact if you look at the times, it turned out that no alternative strategy would have had any better result, possibly even worse. It was just bad luck for Ferrari that the ones who pitted under the safety car turned out to have an advantage. Once Alonso was overtaken by Button into the first corner, the die was cast. Button turned out to be ok because he did an extremely long first stint, but with Button ahead of him, Alonso’s lap times and strategy options were limited. If he had been ahead of Button and faster, Alonso wouldn’t have needed the early stop and would have been WDC no problem. But stuck behind the tyre-conserving Button, he was going to come out behind Rosberg whatever happened, and he could have even been behind Webber (ok, we know now that Webber didn’t overtake anybody, but we have the advantage of hindsight).

But the trouble with this is that if you’re looking for somebody to blame, it might look as though Alonso was the culprit for getting overtaken at the first corner. But no, that would never do. So if it looks like Dyer at first glance, it suits Ferrari to just leave it that way. But the numbers are there on the record. Anybody can analyse them.


Not true, if he’d stayed out he could have pitted later (although not as late as Button perhaps) and got out ahead of Rosberg. Would have been tight though


Do you know when he was scheduled to pit James? If it was the same time as Hamilton, he wouldn’t have cleared Rosberg. The commentators had said earlier that the Ferraris had been wearing out the soft tyres faster than the McLarens, so they would pit if anything earlier. Was that wrong?

If Alonso’s original strategy was anything like Button’s, then a decision to pit early really would be an odd move. Quite unlike Dyer too, who has many tactical triumphs to his name in the past.

People just look for scapegoats. Did you see Roy Hodgson miss that penalty last night? And his tackling was really pathetic. All they need to do is sack Hodgson and then they’ll be a good team. Or not.


They had to make changes in fairness but in my view they failed to make the biggest change needed. Getting rid of Massa. Okay contractually he’s signed up and maybe the field of available drivers is weak but he will definitely go in 2012 unless he pulls out a stunning 2011 season.

Ferrari need two strong drivers otherwise they have no hope of winning the constructors title with both McLaren and Red Bull having two incredibly strong drivers consistently in the points. I feel we might see a resurgence of Ferrari in 2012 with possibly Kubica or Vettel onboard.


Has Fry got experience in this role? Thought he was more of an engineer?


On Massa, I’d chuck him and hire Heidfeld as Fernando’s wingman – he might win a race or two and if he doesn’t he’ll just get on with it rather than sulking.


Chris Dyer, will find another spot……..

Enough said….


Well they do say in Formula 1 your only as good as your last race….. Chris Dyer now knows that well!

But what will it do for his confidence, if I were in his shoes, I would be certainly looking at another team and going brimming with confidence at ensuring of success…


Seems harsh on Chris Dyer.

James, are Ferrari doing this more publicly than, say, McLaren would? They must be under a lot of pressure.

They did the same with Luca Baldisserri right?


I think it just shows how much Ferrari is in the spotlight. There’s been a lot of pressure after Abu Dhabi, as you can imagine. But the message is that the team is calm and looking forward. It cannot do anything else


Too much coffee and pasta causing hot blooded changes, this will reflect in their performances.

Everyone makes mistakes and Dyer would be better for it now, so bad move imo.

In any case, I don’t care about Ferrari so this is good for non-ferrari lovers alike 😀


Just for your information, BBS valves filed again for bankruptcy last thursday.


Yeah, guess working at Ferrari has its positive and negative sides. The team’s image is somewhat strained I think; if down at McLaren they’ve got Ronspeak, then Ferrari has its own Enzochop (sorry, can’t come up with better neologism) for the worst employees of the month.

Making decisions on the pit wall must be quite stressful, especially now with social media when every fan out there will try to tell you that he or she would do a better job, it’s quie annoying I would imagine. Anyway, good luck to the new appointments and maybe Dyer could be reunited with Schu at Mercedes? Sounds crazy but why not – he’s got nothing to lose now.

Carlos E Del Valle

Well I also found “Enzochop” pretty good, and I think it sums up my feelings: it reminded a lot of the old 1980’s Ferrari days, when they were a joke. I’m Latin myself, and I can tell you that this seemed a lot like Latin hot-blooded emotional management.


I’ve just spat tea out all over my screen at ‘Enzochop’ – priceless!!!!


Just warming up… but thanks. Neologisms are hard to come up with these days.


Have you ever pinned down who it actually was who made the decision to cover Webber on that lap James?

Was it Chris or is he the scapegoat for someone more senior?

To be fair it must have been a pretty evenly balanced decision at the time, had Webber not been covered and then gone on to get sufficient points via some brilliant Red Bull strategy, someone could equally have been be fired for not doing what they did.

Maybe Neil’s software can help this in future, although I thought they all had this anyway!


Perhaps his software simplifies scapegoating?


Lol, good one murray.


what about stella? he must be better than what seems to be, when you listen to him on the radio. He must be in good terms with alonso, because he was an important part in the last race fiasco.


Chris Dyer should quit Ferrari and go to Mercedes to be Schumi’s engineer!


Totally agree with you Steveceve – first thing that came to my mind when I read this…!


Can you tell me more about that program Neil Martin wrote. I’m working in the finance sector, passionate about strategic thinking and I would like to know what that guy did.

Patrick McLaughlin


James wrote an article in the FT (Sept. 2008) called “Planning for Success” Might be worth a read.

Heres the link


Doesn’t say much about Mr Neil Martin’s work but nonetheless a great article on strategy


Is it possible to read it anywhere without being registered? 😉


Well remembered. Thanks


Hello, Stephan,

from what I know it’s some kind of a risk assessment programme. I don’t know if that helps, but maybe try to google it.

Chris Partridge

Very interesting…worth a piece perhaps on the science of strategy decisions on the pitwall.

Zobra Wambleska

Well, we’re seeing the lack of tolerance for error in F1 at work here. I guess if Chris Dyer has to go Pat Fry is a good choice and Martin looks like a good strategic move. Under the circumstances I don’t think Ferrari had much of a choice, to do nothing could have been seen as a failure to manage.


Ok, Zobra, so Christmas is over and finally I’m happy to disagree with you (again).

IMO Ferrari are being too harsh to Chris. The WDC was not lost in that final race. Maybe Mr Domenicali (I bet the decission maker has been Montezemolo, hasn’t he?) should think about why the car was so clearly inferior to the Bulls, especially when they were supposed to start developing the 2010 season car during 2009 mid season.

And, if we talk about the lack of tolerance for error… what about Rob Smedley and Felipe Massa screaming to the world that they were following team orders in Germany. That behaviour seriously compromised the team’s interests. IMO, as I have posted some times before, they both should have been dismissed that very same day.

So, now Mr Domenicalli is showing the world that he is in control, and that important decissions are made. Probably, as you say, it’s only a question of showing “real” management… if so, it’s very sad that the cost is so high (losing Dyer). Again, I would of liked to see such determination from Stefano at the Hockenheimring after the race.

Zobra Wambleska

Galapago, I don’t really disagree with you on this. I don’t feel that Chris should have been demoted and made to take the blame for the strategic choice he made, he was scapegoated IMO. Pat Fry I have no qualms about, he’s very good. Alonso made a great run in the last half of the season, so not much to blame there, but Domenicali, if anyone, should have taken the hit. This is not, and has not been the team that Ross and Jean led so well. I lay that at the feet of Domenicali, but then no one was going to come in and automatically be at that level now, were they? As far as Massa and Smedly are concerned, it would be easy to build a case either way. My problem with Ferrari is not the brand or the quality of the product, both of which are terrific, my rant is with the culture within the company and the attitude toward racing. I’ve never been a big fan of people (or companies) that feel entitled to special treatment because of the length of their tenure and past glory. Respect, yes, special treatment, no.


I will defend Rob Smedley as you already know (and you probably know my reasons from the previous James’s note). However, I do agree more or less with the rest of your post. It seems to me a bit like showing everybody that they are in control, not sitting still but actively responding to what happened. And though the championship was indeed lost throughout the whole season (we could as well say that they would get it if Alonso hadn’t crashed in FP in Monaco or in Spa), Abu Dhabi remains the most blatant case. The fact is that all the teams made some mistakes at one point or another (e.g. McLaren, just like Ferrari, misjudged the conditions in qualifying in Malaysia), but Abu Dhabi is still the one mistake that will haunt the team and the fans for a long time. So I guess they should have reacted somehow even if that was only for show for the fans – to prove that they understand what happened and are not indifferent about it. Whether it’s a right decision or not is a different matter and only time will tell if the new crew acts better (though we will never know if the old crew wouldn’t act just the same in 2011;)). So I guess for various reasons, the team had to react somehow. But like Mario said above – it’s a different thing whether this is a just step or whether they were acting just to act and found a scapegoat in the person of Chris Dyer.

Personally, I’m sorry for him.


Losing like they did in Abu Dhabi wasn’t just a mistake, it was a disaster on all levels on a biblical scale. Ferrari had WDC in the bag and they failed to take it, all in that one, final race. Heads must have rolled.

Whether they found a scape goat in Dyer is another matter.


100% agreed! Ferrari had the WDC title in the bag until the most moronic strategy call i have ever seen. I sat and watched in amazement as ferrari brought in alonso. There was no way in hell that fernando was going to get out infront of the merc and renault. I never bothered watching the rest of the race. Whoever made this decision needed to go. Only problem i have is with Domenicalli still been in charge. Too many crap stratigies have been allowed with him at the helm. How the hell do you make a former HR director team principal. He should have the final say in strategy. He was quick to shift blame to the “entire team”. Everytime i hear this guy speak about this topic he comes across as a bull sh1tt3r looking to cover his own ass. Whatever happened to Luca Baldersari that was been groomed by Ross Brawn?


i agree mate. the championship was lost over 19 races not the final one. the blown engine and transmission problems in malaysia or fernandos crash in monaco fp3 when the ferrari could have won there are just as much to blame as the last race. they just cant blame one man for getting a single decision wrong in one race can they.

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