New Ferrari boss Marco Mattiacci, speaking at his first race in charge at Ferrari, did not today rule out the possibility of bringing in new personnel as he seeks to revive the racing fortunes of the Scuderia.
“A team is made first of people, people, people, people,” he said in Shanghai on day when Fernando Alonso topped the opening practice session timesheet and finished second in the afternoon. “As I said, the chairman [Luca di Montezemolo], we discuss and discuss and clearly, whatever is needed, we will do, even going to the market but with the clear idea that not just for the sake of going shopping. But if we will find someone that will bring extreme added value to a team that, according to all of us, is one of the highest level teams that there is Formula One… that’s the philosophy at the moment. Whatever is needed will be done.”
He added that together with Di Montezemolo he would be making an assessment of the teams strengths weaknesses but that he has not yet formulated a strategy for taking Ferrari forward.
“I am not a great believer in the word ‘strategy’,” he said. “I believe that every day you need to set a target for improvement. As I said, when you first arrive, you look for what is good and I think that in this team there is a lot a lot of talent. So I am working with the chairman in making an assessment and to see what will be needed. At this moment in time, I really cannot make a call on that.”
The F1 newcomer, who until now has headed up Ferrari’s North American arm, was also forthright about his lack of F1 experience, saying that while he is a keen racer he will approach running the Marenello squad with “a lot of humility”.
“I can tell you that I love racing,” he added. “I race in my spare time. I spent probably 20, 22 weeks in the track last year. I attended three 24 Hour Daytonas, sleeping at the track, tried to learn as much as I could. It’s not Formula 1 but I love racing. I love continuous improvement. I love challenging the team, challenging ourselves to give a better car and to get as much as we can from the track.
“I think that in the last 20 years, I have assembled a lot of teams,” he continued. “I am benchmarking a lot of business structure. So I will try to bring some best practice from that but definitely this is a very specific culture. Reaction [time] is completely different. You need to do things that have to happen yesterday, not in two months like in the corporate world. So I come with a lot of humility to understand and to work very hard. This is what I can commit to the team, to the drivers that are the best drivers in the world. They will have an extremely humble person that will listen and will fight 150 per cent to be a facilitator and to best utilise the talent that is within Ferrari.”
Mattiacci concluded by saying that his immediate goal is simply to close the gap to Mercedes, a task that he said would not be easy.
“I don’t think we are going to give up. Our goal is to close as much as possible the gap to the leader, which at the moment is Mercedes,” he said. “You all know racing better than me, there are many variables that can influence a lap, a race or a championship. So, as this is the fourth race it is still very early to take a decision. But our objective is to close the gap to Mercedes as soon as possible, which is not an easy task. Will I be on the pit wall? For sure.”