Ferrari restructuring must allow engineers to be creative – Newey the main target
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 May 2014   |  11:32 am GMT  |  142 comments

Marco Mattiacci, the new team principal of Ferrari, has a good idea of the scale of the job he needs to do in order to return Ferrari to winning ways and it isn’t going to happen overnight.

Ferrari will have a major aerodynamic update package on the car for Montreal, as it traditionally does and a significant step on the power unit, which has been a major handicap on the straights this year.

If this doesn’t bring the team a good step closer to Mercedes, then it will inevitably begin to commit more resources to the engine side and to wind tunnel time to 2015, where it can make a difference.

But Mattiacci’s task is long term. Ferrari has lost the winning habit and he needs to recreate the culture that existed there under Jean Todt.

Current Ferrari technical director James Allison (below left) said at the weekend that Ferrari has no shortage of talented people, but the environment needs to be right for them to take risks. He blames a culture of fear of failure and unrealistic deadlines for Ferrari’s failure to innovate in recent years,

“There is a wealth of talent at Ferrari, the experience and quality of the people on the technical side is a match for any team. It is a question of giving them the encouragement to actually go off and do more unusual things and then have the time to look at them and know that if they fail it’s OK because there’s still time to put a back-up plan in place and for that to work,” he said.

“Creativity and originality will only come if you set out to allow the engineers in your organisation the space and the time to do that.

“If you force them to operate with their back against the wall, up against deadlines that are very tight, then there is no time for them to think about how they might approach something differently.”

In Monaco the talk was once again of Ferrari’s all out attempt to hire Adrian Newey away from Red Bull. Again, this is not going to happen overnight.

“I remain committed to Red Bull for the foreseeable future,” Newey said in Monaco.

But the foreseeable future is only the next year or two. Beyond that, anything is possible if the right circumstances are put in place.

Newey has been with Red Bull for seven years and historically that is about the length of time he was with Williams and McLaren before moving on to seek fresh challenges.

Newey is well aware of Ferrari, what it stands for and the prestige of the brand. He owns, drives and races Ferraris. He has no ideological barrier to working for Ferrari in Italy, merely to its reputation for being a turbulent environment.

He has said that previous attempts to hire him – of which there were many – came at the wrong time in his family life.

Now divorced with children who have mostly grown up, 55 year old Newey is at a different moment in his life. He has a new partner, Amanda Smerczak (above). His son is a keen kart racer and Italy is the hotbed of karting.

Anecdotally, one has the impression that Newey is indeed looking around at the moment, considering what to do next and he has bought himself some thinking time with his Monaco statement.

Ferrari is believed to be offering Newey a spectacular package which would give him, in addition to a massive salary comparable with many F1 drivers, the opportunity to be across Le Mans project, maybe even have a hand in designing a road going super car, but above all to make Ferrari the fastest F1 car out there.

All of this will be very tempting but what Newey needs is certainty that he and his department would be protected; from politics, from internal pressures and interference from FIAT and other outside forces and would be allowed to get on with their work.

He would also need a free rein to know that all the resources he needs are at his disposal, no questions asked. Mattiacci has been given a freedom previous Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali never had – to be able to sign things off quickly himself, without needing lengthy approvals. He has things set up more like the Todt regime in that sense. The team management can react more quickly and be more dynamic.

Newey works best in a protected environment and it is the thing he will be most concerned about at Ferrari, given its culture and politics. Todt managed to ring fence the team and was the strong man holding back the inside and outside forces to allow the team and its engineering innovators to thrive.

Mattiacci must reproduce that, and convince Newey very soon that he can do so, or the project will have little chance of succeeding.

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Firstly, I think Ferrari needs to have some patience with Allison. The guy is a brilliant designer and engineer who was able to put together real brainpower and strong cars consistently despite being on a team in financial trouble. They know how good he is, and I just can’t see them moving him aside or giving him less responsibility. And bringing in Adrian Newey on top of him could be difficult, as they are top engineers with their own philosophies that may not be compatible.

Ferrari needs to have a little bit of patience. They already have an engineer who can transform a team in Allison. He hasn’t even been given a chance to put out a car with his fingerprints at Ferrari yet, as he came on in the middle of last year when the 2014 car was already in the testing phases. He has worked with both of these drivers and understands their feedback and what they are looking for- and also understands that they know what they are talking about. Just look at the recovery Kimi has made in his performance relative to Alonso. He outqualified him in Spain and was ahead of him most of the race, and he was faster in the race in Monaco. That is a sign that these guys under Allison can fix a car when a driver is telling them what’s wrong, and with the wind tunnel back up to speed, there is no reason why Allison can’t deliver.


If Ferrari kicked Alonso out of the door, all the problems would just cease to exist and the self-healing process would start immediately.


Difficult. Remember it was Alonso who brought big sponsorship money, not Riakkonen.


I think it was Santander who brought Alonso as part of the deal. No Fernando, no deal, no money.




I believe the f1 drivers today could be more skilled to some degree which might make them more skillfully than the senna/Prost era on the other hand if senna was to come again on this era I think he would still be Better than Alonso And Vettel. Senna jut had a supernatural talent like I’ve never seeing in any other driver even though today in modern time


Ayrton Senna and Jim Clark would have been the best in any era. Pat Symonds said that Senna had the ability to drive as fast as he did with 90% of his brain, and the 10% was processing and storing information, whereas nearly everyone else was driving on the limit with 100% of their brains. I’m sure Senna would easily adapt to these cars. And Clark won in every type of car that he stepped in, so that shows you what kind of talent he had.


It was not Clark who was the fastest driver of his era said Brabham. Fastest was Moss followed by Rindt said Sir Jack.


Jim Clark’s numbers speak for themselves, as do the many races in which he put on simply impossible performances. They, along with his unbelievable rate to adapt to new cars, as his results in the Indy 500 with basically no experience in those cars show.

Moss got beat by Fangio for a World Championship. Rindt just simply wasn’t as good. Brabham got beat three years in a row by Dan Gurney- horribly underrated driver in F1 history, and I would argue the second best of that era- in the car he owned.


Senna was not skilled enough to win a title for Ferrari. And he knew it. That’s why he never signed with them.

Senna needed the fastest car in the field to win a title. And even in the fastest car he was outscored by a fast team mate like Prost.


That is not true. If you see in the begging of his career he was already winning races without a fast car I believe he began with lotus and was already winning against faster cars . Needless to say the faster car didn’t define him as the best skill the ability to drive the car is what makes a champion . For example today in modern times we can also see that the best driver not the faster car wins . Vettel doesn’t drives a red bull which is not as fast as Ferrari and mclaren and vettel still wins

Marc Saunders

I believe Newey could go to Ferrari. It could be a big challenge to someone who loves challenges. But I don´t believe it could solve Ferrari´s problems. I thing that such a genius as Adrian needs an adequate environment to develop his skills. I also believe Ferrari could build such an environment but it will take so much time that when it is achieved, it will be too late for him. Adrian is not so young anymore.


@ Marc, I agree. Ferrari has to improve its leadership. Stefano was nice but a total disaster. Letting people like Chris Dyer and Aldo Costa go was a big mistake. He was punishing people for making mistakes, rather than backing them to do better and that is why Ferrari developed a culture of fear, which is why they became to conservative. Ross Brawn is what the team needs, a strong leader and not Adrian Newey


If they get Newey, they will also get Vettel.

Who will be out? Alonso! Good luck for Alonso to shift Schumacher to retirement. Bad luck for Alonso not to work with Newey.


It was Alonso’s choice not to work with Newey. He had an offer to work with him.


Sadly for Alonso, he may not get WDC with Ferrari in foreseeable future, this year is certainly written off for all the teams but Merc, in the next year perhaps The Merc again will be the team to beat (I don’t think Mclaren Honda will top the table in its 1st year).. in the next couple of years it looks like it’s Merc vs RBR competition.


If Alonso could concentrate on working instead of throwing tantrums he might as well win a title with Ferrari.


I don’t want to see Newey in Ferrari, it doesn’t make sense, it is like having luke Skywalker signed to the dark side.

Give Allison time and he will do miracles, dodn’t forget he was the one Newey wanted desperately in red bull.


James I have a question. In your opinion, has Pat Fry done anything at all to move Ferrari forward? At all? Cos if anything I think they look worse.


From the little we’ve seen so far of MM is impressive, and he has Allison.

So Ferrari do not make to make further changes, just gell everything together for 2015


I can’t imagine anyone would want to work under Montezemolo, either directly or indirectly. That would be about as much fun as working for Montgomery Burns – they’re probably brothers.

First and foremost, it can’t be about the money – he must have enough of that already! Looking at RB, they just seem like a fun young company to work for compared to the Marque that comes across as if it were a stuffy bank. Can anyone imagine Ferrari bringing a swimming pool to the Monaco Grand Prix that the whole team ends up in when one of their drivers win the race?


Ross Brawn , Adrian Newey, Vettal and Alonso. That would be a power house team.

Right up to the point it blew up.


Luca 1 year or less remaining? Before he decides that the time is finally right to go full time into politics. (or has it decided for him)

Unfortunately previous attempts by Ferrari at radical designs have not been successful. The problem then is that they are so far away, that they cannot be put back to “normal” without without major chassis redesigns.

It is very telling that the ban on testing has

caused Ferrari to fall behind other teams. This has neutralised some of their gigantic budget. It says a lot about their design methods.

Whatever the promises, and whoever makes them, there will never be a time when engineers are not under time pressure to achieve the impossible, within ridiculous deadlines, it is a fantasy. Ask any design engineer in the automotive industry, it has never happened and never will!


What Marco Mattiacci can’t bring back to Ferrari that Todt had was the unfair advantage Ferrai had by the way of unlimited testing while the other teams stuck to a gentlemans agreement on testing.

Ferrari has never and will never match Mercedes.


James, very insightful article, as was the previous one on race strategy.

I would agree with the reader who says Newey is not what Ferrari needs. They do have Allison and a bunch of highly qualified people already. Seems to me the problem starts at the head. Namely, di Montezemolo. I’d be scared to work for that guy, in any capacity. Seems always ready to throw anybody under the bus.


Sometimes the best thing a real leader can do is get out of the way and let his team get on with it.


Opps, I meant “bad management”

kenneth chapman

a very interesting take on the ferrari situation. there are one or two points that maybe added to the summary.

i read, where domenicali was asked what was the first thing that he did after resigning, and he said that he made three phone calls. one to alonso, one to kimi, and one to vettel? when asked why the latter he simply said to ask vettel.

now this reference to vettel may be absolute nonsense as no other sources seem to have picked up on it. however if it is true then something is on the boil.

the other point is something that i read and i can’t exactly recall the source but LDM did say, in his praise for alonso, that alonso was involved in ‘other’ ferrari future developments. lately i have wondered why ferrari are not seriously back into sports car racing in the LMP1 areas.

could it be that ferrari are planning an entry and they would use alonso to spearhead that enterprise? look at how porsche have moved on mark webber. this may be a way of easing alonso out and bringing vettel in.

interesting times ahead no doubt.



The insulation should come from LdM. But, being Italian LdM is simply being, well Italian. Coming from an Italian family, I know full well how a disagreement over the best way to pick a tomato from the vine can turn into a full on meltdown at a family gathering. The designers, engineers, mechanics all need to be left alone to do what they were contracted to do. Ferrari has the resources, engineers, drivers that can get the job done. Their failure is a result of good management.


Ross Brawn visited Maranello in early May. Him and his friends even had a go at the Fiorano circuit in the new LaFerrari. Ross is a part of the Ferrari family. He mentioned in a 2012 interview that he has fond memories of his time at the Scuderia. So he may someday make a comeback and be the new team principal – something Ferrari should have done back in 2008.

On the other hand, knowing how close Ross was to Schumi, and given Schumacher’s comatose condition, Ross has probably realized there are better things in life than hectic schedule, F1 politics and immense pressure to prove himself everyday. So he will most likely stay retired.

Newey has already mentioned he may try his hands on designing a boat for the Americas cup after he is done with F1.


I know alonso has been busy at HQ today talking to his chief engineers about progress and quote ” we will not give up” . Alonso knows Ferrari are going to change for the better and is not going to change teams as he has more patience than others . If he does not win another championship with Ferrari after waiting then that’s his choice … I have a gut feeling Kimi will go to mclaren in 2015 as there are no bad feelings and possibly jules will be the second pilot of Ferrari .

Carlos Marques

This would be the same as IBM hiring Steve Jobs because of his creative ideas, and then ask him to wear a tie every day. Or McDonalds hiring chef Ramsey because he may be able to help them improve the quality of their burgers and fries…

Some things just don’t go together. Newey and Ferrari is one of them. It will end in tears…


James I thought Ferrari is going to deliver a major engine update to Canada and the new chassis would be introduced in Austria.

Could you confirm this?


I think that Ferrari is probably on Newey’s “bucket list” – it poses a unique challenge for him and if he can be insulated from the pressures of Ferrari and be allowed time to flourish, I think he will do very well.

That being said, James Allison has hit the button on the head. Ferrari need to allow their designers time to explore unconventional options. If everything produced is right up against the deadline, it’s rarely innovative as there simply isn’t time to explore all the options.


I have been a lifelong Ferrari fan. All they do since 2009 is talk, talk and then talk some more. I do hope that Marco can organise them better and get this sorted out! THis season is gone…concentrate on next year and stop the embarrasment


If he is given the leeway he requires, we could see Newey going for one more F1 challenge.

Ferrari as they stand now are surely a team that need all that his mentioned in the article. Mattiacci seems to understand that and hopefully for Ferrari and their fans, he also has what it takes to make it happen as he seems to have the free reins to do it. Won’t happen overnight to be sure.

If Newey does get there in a couple of years, you would think that by then Ferrari would have made good on their PU and be on part against all.

With Vettel in his luggage?

Even if right now Vettel is not on the good side of most Tifosis, a winning Ferrari driven by Seb would change all of that very quickly.

With or without the Vettel part, I would like to see that Newey move though.

I find the idea of a Ferrari road car design by Newey very exciting. Not that I could afford such car. Marc


This post shows the difference between mere reporting and true journalism. Very interesting reading, thanks James.

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