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Ferrari put confidence in Pat Fry as Costa falls on his sword
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Ferrari put confidence in Pat Fry as Costa falls on his sword
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 May 2011   |  5:49 pm GMT  |  153 comments

Four years after Ross Brawn left the team, Ferrari has once again decided to put its faith in an Anglo Saxon technical director.

Costa: Out of time (Ferrari)


Aldo Costa, who was long groomed as Brawn’s successor, has been relieved of his post to be replaced by ex McLaren engineer Pat Fry. The 47 year old Englishman was brought in over the winter as deputy technical director. He was previously one of the senior engineers and designers at McLaren and he now assumes overall control of the chassis side of the technical operation. Luca Marmorini stays on as boss on the engine side and Corrado Lanzone is head of production.

Ferrari has lacked flair and imagination in its design recently and it is likely that Fry will now look to strengthen the design office.

Costa oversaw the 2007 world championship victory for Kimi Raikkonen, with a car designed by his team, under Brawn’s management and then his team came close in 2008 with Felipe Massa. But the title eluded them and has done so ever since as independent teams Brawn (ironically) and Red Bull stepped up to championship status.

Last year they narrowly missed out on the world title with Fernando Alonso, who led going into the final round and a disappointing start to this season, dogged by aerodynamic correlation problems caused by an upgrading of the wind tunnel from 50% to 60%, has led Ferrari’s management to act.

The car lacks downforce and struggles to generate temperature and grip from harder compound tyres, a long-time Ferrari problem.

Costa said last weekend that Ferrari had a significant upgrade to the car coming for Montreal, but he will not be around to see whether it works. Ferrari should be more competitive in the next three races anyway; Monaco, Montreal and Valencia, as they are tracks which call for soft compound tyres, which suit Ferrari better.

Although team principal Stefano Domenicali came up through the ranks with Costa and served alongside him for many years, the performance in Spain, where Alonso fell backwards and was lapped after a heroic effort in qualifying and the start of the race was clearly the final straw. The Ferrari is off the pace, Red Bull is getting away and a difficult decision needed to be made.

With Williams’ Sam Michael resigning earlier this month, Technical directors are becoming like football managers, who carry the can when the team fails to make the grade.

Under Brawn and ultimately Jean Todt, the technical team was very stable, with Rory Byrne as chief designer. In the four years since they left the technical side has promoted and then dispensed with Luca Baldisserri and Chris Dyer who performed senior operations roles and now with Costa.

With Alonso signed up for five years, Ferrari is clearly hoping that he and Fry can form a new dynasty and restore stability and excellence to the technical side. They worked together well at McLaren in 2007.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said at the launch of the 150 Italia that this year the Scuderia “have to win” but with its lead driver already over 60 points behind Sebastian Vettel, it is going to require a massive turnaround to get Alonso back into the title fight like last year.

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1

My source was Ferrari’s press release for the F2007, not Wikipedia. I imagine Ferrari would know who designed their own car, and the fact it made no mention of Byrne is quite significant.

2

i would like to see that press release that has been now found by you. Because the first time we argued who designed the car your reasoning was that it lacked the single keel design there for you felt it was fair to say Rory did not design the car. I want proof not assumptions that he was the only designer because of the suspension setup, and now apparently a press release. The versions of course of the press releases I saw never said he was the only designer. It actually did not mention who designed the car. Your wording about the suspension by the way seems to be the same as Wikipedia. Which is an assumption. Like i said f1technical shows Aldo and Rory as designers. But like i said you can take your F2007 ill give you that free of charge..there’s 6 other seasons where the car was not fast enough and did not win. Best drivers no wins. The car was not fast enough.

3

according to a newspaper i read, it was that in 2010, Costa was tasked with creating an agressive car. he didnt, but Stefano let it slide for a bit, as the looked good in pre-season.

then when the car turned out to be off the pace, he he then resigned.

4

I think the wind tunnel issues are what set the Scuderia back, and Costa is taking the fall for it.

5

James, you said “Stability is the key in Schumacher’s success, in the following video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xz0MSgkPXg

Now, they are completely unstable. What do you make of this management approach?

6

This does strike me as a worrying return to the “bad old days” of the Scuderia, where reshuffles were rife even without necessity and one person would take the fall for the mistakes of many if they had an off year. It seems to be an undercurrent in the team and I do not know whether it’s a question of politics or mentality (I would be inclined to go with the former); however, I am surprised that it is happening on di Montezemolo’s watch considering he saw the devastating effect this can have first-hand in 1973. He was one of the key players along with Lauda, Regazzoni and Forghieri (as well as mechanics Cuoghi and Borsari) in consigning this mentality to the dustbin back then, so you would think he’d see the warning signs with first Dyer and now Costa taking the fall despite their reputations. I only hope it’s not too late to stop another slide.

7

what reputation does costa have? one of not designing a championship winning car? Rory Byrne had to come back to the team for the 2007 car that kimmi won in to make that car a success.

8

He was Rory Byrne’s assistant from 1998 until 2006, and was chief designer of all of their cars from the 248 F1 onwards (which nearly won the championship in 2006) – including the F2007 (which did). Byrne was indeed a consultant at Ferrari but he was so from 2006 onwards and was not “brought back” to design the car – indeed, he had more input on the 248 F1 than its successor if memory serves me correctly. In any event, his input into Ferrari’s return to form suggests he has some talent, and certainly does not justify him taking the fall for failings in the team’s aero department.

9

my rebut is read my post over and over till you get it. f1 technical has a list of every car and there designers. your Wikipedia info is wrong.

thanks

10

As this is fast becoming repetition, I will be as brief as possible. Byrne and Costa co-designed both the F2005 and 248 F1; after that Costa was sole designer. Consultant is not the same thing as designer, and Ferrari themselves list Costa as chief designer for all the cars from 2007 onwards, one of which won the championship and two of which came very close. Your initial claim that he has a reputation of “not designing a championship winning car” and that Byrne had to come back to salvage the season therefore remains wrong, as does your claim that Costa is somehow my “hero” simply because I feel he is being used as a fall guy for the mistakes of the team. My opinion quite clearly will not give anyone at Maranello sleepless nights but that does not make it invalid or wrong, nor does it remove my right to comment about such matters. If my opinion is in your view irrelevant I would question why you have devoted such energy to refuting it. My sole reason for posting was to set out my opinion that this is starting to look like a return to bad habits for the Scuderia in light of Dyer’s earlier removal from the race team, and I still stand by that opinion. I therefore intend to make no further comment on this.

11

If you say so buddy. Aldo designed one car that won and even that is up for debate because Rory and Aldo were credited for designing the car. Aldo by the way designed the 2005 car which only won 1 race(US grand prix) and we all know why they won that one. After that Rory jointly designed the car with Aldo. 2006 they came close 2007 they won by one point and would have lost the constructors championship too if mclaren wasn’t caught spying. AND then Nothing else for 5 seasons. Now you can try and twist the FACTS into a non-fact or into opinion if you want, but winning ONE championship in 7 seasons might be fine for some small team not for Ferrari. That is not good enough and clearly whoever removed him did not think so either. So like i said your opinion or fact makes no difference in the grand scheme of things. So say bye-bye to Aldo.

12

I feel I should point out that in resorting to ad hominem attacks you are breaching the rules of this blog. You may disagree with me about Costa’s ability and that is your prerogative, but that alone does not invalidate my argument which you have failed to rebut on any substantive point.

13

At the end of it all you are an armchair critic and your opinion doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, not even a little bit. get over it your hero has been removed.

14

I do not see what more I can say other than that your “fact” is refuted by the fact he designed the F2007 in the second of his five seasons as chief designer. Your argument therefore falls at the first hurdle. He may not have managed that thereafter but the F2008 was a title contender up to the last race as was the F10, and while the F60 was a dog at first it still achieved 4th in the championship. Based on the above, I feel my claim regarding his reputation is still valid and do not feel it is worth any further comment.

15

[mod] Aldo had 5 seasons to build a winning car and he could not and that is no opinion its a FACT. its a FACT you cannot get away from. did he win anything after F2007? I’m pretty sure your answer will be a fact. [mod

16

With all due respect, you are incorrect in claiming that the car improved only after Byrne got involved – the F2007 won on its debut, and claimed 5 out of the first 9 races, so it was not a bad car by any standard. In addition Byrne was at Ferrari as a consultant from 2006 to 2009, so would not have been “brought on board” as he was already there, and seeing as the F2007 lacked his signature single-keel front suspension arrangement I feel it is fair to say it was not his design. Your other “facts”, Alonso comment aside (which I agree with), are more statements of your opinion, and the remainder I feel does not warrant a response.

17

OK david u can have your fact of winning one championship(not withstanding the little fact that u seem to be conveniently forgetting that the car only improved after Rory got involved) out of 5. not withstanding the FACT that ferrari has had some of the best drivers in this time. not withstanding the FACT that the only reason ferrari was still in the championship last year was because of Alonso. Not with standing the FACT that the car only improved once others came in to help(there seems to be a pattern forming here). Unless of course i have been seeing the wrong team winning the championships over these few years. You seem to think winning one championship with all the resources makes you some sort of untouchable. Or maybe you are Costa’s brother? Are you Costa?

18

I fail to see how the fact that Costa designed the championship-winning F2007 strengthens your argument that he cannot design a championship-winning car – by standard logic, it rather torpedoes it. Likewise, claiming that Byrne designed the cars when Ferrari themselves state to the contrary seems to me an unusual gambit. In any event, I am less concerned about “winning this argument” and more concerned with the facts.

19

Thanks 4 the detail you just strengthed my argument. But u won’t be winning this (brought back) argument on a semantic error. Either way u spin it, the cars “he designed” has not won anything and let’s be honest the only reason ferrari was still in it was because of Alonso. And by the way almost doesn’t count for anything.

20

I’m amazed that Domenicali has held onto his job this long. The team has been on a continuous downward slide since he took over. How has he kept his job and the confidence of Maranello?

21

The key to Ferrari’s success was not Todt or Brawn, it wasn’t even Bridgestone it was the FIA and Ecclstone.

Remember their first team championship being won with an illegal car? I do! Had Ferrari been punished and disqualified as they should have been from that race McLaren would have been team champions and in all likelihood Todt would have been sacked and history would look very different.

Let’s also recall the countless decisions that went Ferrari’s way – maybe one day when certain players are deceased someone in the know will tell all!!!

22

bwahahahah. if this if that. and in every single race ferrari did not finish on the podium it was the fia that gave them the points while the another team actually won. 100% agree with you.

23

I almost spit my coffee, thanks for the joke.

24

It looks to me that Ferrari is slipping slowly but surely into the same mess they were at the beginning of the ’90s when they used to make so many changes within the team that even them didn’t know who’s doing what.

25

James

forgive me for an unrelated post, but one thing that has always fascinated me is the track layout at Monaco.

The one thing the track misses is a longer straight, but as you come down from loews hairpin and turn right to the tunnel, down on left (from memory as I havent been for a year or two) there is a big beachside road. Turning left then doubling back and going along the sea through the tunnel would make an awesome addition?

I think its l’avenue princess grace or something like that.

Of course they’ll never change it. But when I looked there it looked like a fantastic addition.

Andy

26

Please have a word with bernie 😉

27

actually it has been 5 years since Brawn was at Ferrari….

28

Well atleast they cant pin all thier problems down to Kimi now and his so called “lack of communication skills”. I thought Alonso was going to be the solution with his awsome technical feedback which was gonna make the Ferrari go faster. Guess not.

29

Well, it is a little difficult to provide feedback and develop a car based in the driver’s feedback if you don’t have tests, don’t you think? Remember for instance Schumacher doing thousands of laps in Fiorano? Those days are gone in F1 and the really important thing is how good you are designing through simulation. Much cheaper, much more difficult

30

Imagine how bad it would be without Fernando’s o.6sec!

31

This is the consequences of the arising of Red Bull, the lack of in-season testing and the budget caps.

Since this 3 things came in to play ferrari started hiting problems and blaming individual members rather than the team. Last year they were in the fight because of the lack of relibility of Red Bull.

One of the things that we ear is some teams complaining that the upgrades didn´t work and one of them is Ferrari and i don´t remember Red Bull complaining about that. They were used to test it before they race them but now they can´t and it´s costing them.

They used to be on top and having a margin over the others but now they don´t have it and they are a chasing a big Bull and they are panicking.

Like many others i think this Aldo\Fry sitution is already a move for 2012.

32

Regarding design talent, I wonder if the fact that Adrian Newey is a racer himself and drives racecars very frequently, even during the F1 season (crashes them too), gives him extra insight into what a car should feel like and what the driver needs?

Colin Chapman was a pretty fair racer too in his early days.

33

I can’t help thinking that part of the problem is the expectation of the press and the Ferrari fans. Every victory is a reversal of bad fortune, every second place demands a sacking.

I believe in the pursuit of excellence but I also think a sense of proportion is useful as well. Or rather, it is essential.

I don’t read Italian well, and I only speak Italian according to non-Italians, but if you go on the Italian fanzine and newspaper websites you can see what anyone who runs Ferrari is up against. They make demands, point fingers and criticise. The only matter up for dispute seems to be if death is too good for Stefano or whether it is just about right.

There is this expectation that Ferrari should win every race and if they don’t then someone has done something tremendously wrong. I can’t remember anything of a similar level against any other nationality of team. In the Todt : Brawn : Byrne : Schumacher : Bridgestone years I remember praise being heaped on McLaren for a good showing – if only for the occasional pit stop that went according to plan.

I started following F1 in 1966. The strongest team I have seen in the sport broke up, as it was bound to. It was unlikely that they could remain so far in the lead so a couple of seasons rebuilding was on the cards. That’s what they should have planned for.

There was a quote, the source eludes me, post the break-up suggesting that Ferrari were going to give preference to Italian personnel in recruitment. Everyone who heard that could have predicted just what has happened.

Mid season sackings (or is it just a sideways promotion?) are always risky. It will unsettle the team to an extent. When you want your engineers concentrating on the rather big job in hand they should not be worried about the Italian equivalent of a P45. Costa might well have supporters within the team who could feel a bit put out as well. But then perhaps Ferrari feel pressured into taking risky decisions.

Odd descriptor for Fry, Anglo Saxon. I know the surname’s derivation is AS but it is a bit of a leap of faith to suggest that is his cultural or ethnic derivation. But then it is not, I think, such a big one as Ferrari’s.

34

I thought Ferrari was all about family and support. ie. supporting Felipe Massa’s recovery after Hungary 2009, even when he wasn’t performing at his best.

But what do they do with their technical staff? dispose of them when they can’t produce results they need and offer the next person a higher salary?

35

I’d also like to add, that it seems Ferrari can’t handle not winning. It seems that firing one person will just allow them to sweep all their mistakes under the rug, and start from a clean slate again.

I really empathise with Chris Dyer, I’m sure that decision on Alonso’s pit stop wasn’t his alone.

36

I think changing Costa only five races into the season probably means thet Ferrari consider the F150 a dud and want to concentrate on the 2012 car with a new technical director right away therby giving him ample time to set things right….James do you think Pat fry has it in him to lead the design team and produce a top class car ?

37

He’s very experienced and knows what it takes. Will have to be very strong. It’s a lot of pressure. The Italian media is talking about a ‘last chance’ for Domenicali so there’s a lot riding on this now. Upheaval is never good. Stability is always the key around a group which is on the same page. Alonso believes in Fry, as Schumacher did in Brawn/Byrne

38

This is no surprise to me and it is why jean todt did such a good job at ferrari. When the newey mclarens were quicker in the late 90’s did todt panic and have major re-shuffles? He waited and let his mangement team grow and when they grew what happened – a peroid of domination like no other. Similar to what happened with sir alex ferguson………..

39

The way I see it is – if you can’t achieve success for a long time, then you have to meet consequences. And Ferrari didn’t have a clearly winning car for quite e few years now. So there must be “something wrong” and they need changes. On the other hand, every company needs a sense of stability to prosper, so you can’t change staff too often. The problem is to find a proper balance between stability and necessary changes. If things are really wrong then big changes are crucial, but sacking people must be followed by some rational steps and actions (i.e. sacked people must be replaced by better ones), otherwise it’s just a witch hunt and looking for scapegoats. So if Ferrari management does it all because they got mad and decided just to show that they are acting without a bigger plan what next, then it’s totally senseless. But if they have a plan and know what they’re doing, then maybe it was a right decision. It all depends on what follows such actions.

40

I think you summed it up. I dont think there is a bigger plan.

41

That’s a brave move in the middle of the season. But it also means – we’re done chasing any titles this year, we’re clearly third .. which is bad, the race is virtually over. Mclaren will remain after Red Bull, and the season starts to look very predictable – Vettel WDC, Webber and Hamilton fight for vice, Button and Alonso for fourth place.

Red Bull to be weak on high-speed tracks, but that won’t be enough.

42

A little friend of mine in Italy tells me that Ferrari had all along intended to give Pat Fry the TD job but it wasn’t that easy to move Costa aside without a reason.

The thought behind Pat Fry hiring is very simple.

Ferrari in recent years has always moved up people from within and since Ross Brawn era with Jean Todt, they did not have any external personell in the F1 team.

With Pat Fry they have opened up a easier chance to go and get people hired from other teams because the perception in the paddock and in the Italian press has changed, they need to hire to win and they can’t win with people coming from the Ferrari structure.

It is slightly politicalbtu I think that if they had a figure of the stature of Jean Todt, they will not be such a fuss and caution.

43

Having relinquished the Technical directorship, has Costa gone back to his original role of chief designer?

44

Costa hasn’t left the team, but Nicholas Tombazis is still the Chief Designer. For now, at least!

Like Baldisserri, I think Costa will be moved into another important role somewhere within Ferrari. They are still talented people and Ferrari would rather use their skills elsewhere than let their rivals have them.

45

With Alonso at Ferrari it will be truly a disaster if the development is at this stage.

It’s been said 60% car and 40% driver. Alonso has way passed the 40% mark IMHO.

46

well said 🙂

47

I think they are still feeling the effects of the change to restricted resources.

They probably had much more they had to ‘lose’ than everyone else. Reputedly they were spending half a billion dollars each year! Enough to have their own nuclear submarine!

Not to mention the thousands and thousands of miles run on their own track. What an advantage *that must be!

48

I think i read it in James’ first book on Schumi his first test with Ferrari. The test was scheduled to start at 9 AM, and Schumacher turned up at 8:45 only to find the mechanics stretched out,unprepared and sipping on coffee! Ofcourse, everything changed after “the horsemen” took complete control at Scuderia.

In Todt, you had arguably one of the best team principal in the sport who was also politically astute. Brawn was a brilliant technical director who could come up with seemingly suicidal race strategies but knew they had a driver who could execute it and he did! In Michael they had not just a great driver but also a terrific leader. And Rory Byrne and his evolutionary approach to design,Zapski and his software skills,Martinelli and Simons on the engine side when it all came together we had the 2000s. Somehow, they managed to lose them all within years.

Alonso has leadership skills but i doubt it if he has the patience and team-player attitude of Schumacher, after all we are talking about a driver who has changed team 4 times in 5 years! The repair work should start with team principal. How about persuading Reinhold Joest to lead Scuderia in F1 ?

49

Excellent post.

50
Grayzee (Australia)

Argghhh! Why do Ferrari have to have this “we must always win or else” mantra, as if it is their god given right!. It is not, and it just shows the arrogance of them to think so. They need to acknowledge that there is more than one team on the grid! At present,3 of them are genuinely capable of winning.In any competition one has to respect the fact that you can’t always stay on the top, no matter who you are or how much money you have.

( There, I feel better now….)

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