Aldo Costa was designer of some of the Ferraris raced by Michael Schumacher, replaced Ross Brawn as Technical Director at Ferrari and held the post until May 2011, when he was sacked. Brawn then hired him for Mercedes and he is the man behind the current design, which is dominating both the drivers and constructors’ championships.
In a blog post, leading Italian F1 journalist Leo Turrini has spoken to Costa and got some interesting revelations from the 53 year old, about Mercedes team orders and on why he thinks Ferrari is now in the doldrums.
Costa is one of twelve Italian engineers working at Mercedes, many of whom he recruited himself. He describes this as, “Professionally a happy time.”
This contrasts with the summer of 2011 when he was let go by Ferrari. On the subject of whose current predicament he says,
“I’m not happy about it. I worked for a company that is a myth. It doesn’t please me to see how it is reduced, in Formula One terms, even though they fired me and in a way that I don’t consider very elegant.
“Let me say that there are a lot of people working in Maranello, for whom I feel affection and it pains me that they are in such a complicated situation. It is not good, I left many friends there, should I be happy to see them in such trouble?”
As for pinpointing the reasons why Ferrari is struggling now, with no wins and just two podiums in the first half of the 2014 season, Costa says,
“Strategic mistakes were made – I’m talking here about errors of vision – very serious ones. And of course they haven’t always taken the best decisions regarding people.
“I’ll give you an example. In 2008 we in the racing department put in a request to construct a new wind tunnel. We considered it essential to remain competitive. We were told that this was not the case and that there was no need.
“In Ferrari all the decisions, on strategy and people, have always been taken by the president, Montezenolo. To be fair, he took them when Ferrari was winning everything and he also took them when Ferrari stopped winning.”
The tunnel at Maranello was converted from 50% scale to 60% scale, but it suffered from problems with calibration and Ferrari lost a lot of time as a result. They were forced to use Toyota’s tunnel in Cologne while the issues were resolved.
Ferrari is currently constructing a huge new complex in Maranello to house its race team, known as Gestione Sportiva.
Costa says that he doesn’t expect Ferrari to rise up again soon from its difficulties and expects the challenge next season to come from Red Bull, rather than from Maranello.
Speaking of Fernando Alonso, with whom he worked at Ferrari in the Spaniard’s first two seasons there, Costa says,
“I consider Fernando a true great when he is in the car, driving. Out of the car, I was never able to understand him; to me he is an indecipherable character, an enigma.
“However he will not be coming to us at Mercedes, I do not see why Hamilton should want to leave a team like ours.”
And speaking of Lewis Hamilton, Costa addresses the subject of the controversial team orders in Hungary, whereby Mercedes asked Hamilton to let Rosberg past, as he was on a different strategy at the time. Costa makes it clear that the senior management doesn’t care which of the two drivers wins the world title.
“The radio message, heard from the outside, I admit, it sounded bad,” he said. “But it was logical: Nico soon had to return to the pits to change tyres, he was faster, there was reason to ask Lewis to let him through. But there were no ulterior motives and even malice, trust me.
“I can assure you that Mercedes will not make any preference, between Hamilton and Rosberg. It is not in our interests. In fact, the team has a very strict directive: as the two drivers are extremely competitive and are willing to battle each other at every race, we have an obligation to provide both of the a completely equal car in performance terms.”