Analysis: Pressure mounts on Ferrari F1 team as Marchionne predicts victory in Spain
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Ferrari Russian Grand Prix
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  11 May 2016   |  12:53 pm GMT  |  137 comments

Ferrari chairman and newly appointed CEO Sergio Marchionne expects the Scuderia to start winning Formula 1 races from this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix and blames bad luck for its disappointing start to the season.

After the first four races of 2016, Ferrari has scored 76 points to Mercedes’ 157, and has achieved a best finish of second for Kimi Raikkonen in Bahrain and Sebastian Vettel in China.

The squad was in a position to win the season opening race in Australia but made the wrong call on tyres during the red flag period caused by Fernando Alonso’s enormous crash with Esteban Gutierrez.

Sebastian Vettel Lewis Hamilton

There had been much speculation over the winter months, from Marchionne and other Ferrari figures, that the team could bridge the gap to Mercedes and fight the German manufacturer for this year’s world title, but so far this has not been the case.

As he spoke at a presentation for the new Alfa Romeo road car, the Giulia, in Italy, Marchionne predicted that the Scuderia would return to the top step of the podium as early as this weekend’s race in Barcelona, which would be its first F1 win since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix.

He said: “I am confident. Sunday will be an important day. So far, much of it was down to bad luck, but the season has just begun. I expect us to win shortly, starting with Spain.”

XPB.cc Sergio Marchionne

Marchionne also explained that he was happy with the performances of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, who have both been involved in high-profile mechanical retirements and crashes so far in 2016. The pair even collided at the start of the Chinese Grand Prix, which Vettel vocally blamed on Red Bull’s former driver, Daniil Kvyat, before saying it was a racing incident.

That was also the only race where both Ferrari drivers made it to the chequered flag. Raikkonen retired with power unit problems in Australia, Vettel suffered a parade-lap engine failure in Bahrain and Kvyat punted him out of the Russian race.

The Ferrari boss said: “I’m very satisfied with both Vettel and Raikkonen. The only thing that hasn’t worked well is luck.”

Sebastian Vettel Lewis Hamilton Spain 2015

Whether Ferrari truly does have the pace to challenge Mercedes this year will surely be revealed in Spain. At last year’s race in Barcelona Nico Rosberg finished 45 seconds clear of Vettel, the top Ferrari driver in that race.

What will be a concern to the Scuderia, as well as the incidents that have blighted its recent races, is that it has spent 26 power unit tokens (out of a possible 32 for the season), and it introduced a big upgrade from the last race in Sochi.

Mercedes has spent five fewer tokens and yet the closest Ferrari has come to beating the Silver Arrows in qualifying was in Shanghai where Raikkonen was 0.5s adrift of Rosberg and behind Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Russian Grand Prix 2016

A clean race for the Ferrari drivers in Barcelona should finally give us an answer on the team’s gains, but we believe that Mercedes remains a good half a second quicker.

There has been speculation in the last 24 hours that Marchionne could move to replace Arrivabene as team principal with technical director James Allison. We have made some discreet enquiries in Italy about this and it seems to be nothing more than speculation, possibly triggered by the confirmation of Marchionne’s new executive role.

There is no move in hand to replace the former tobacco executive and Allison only recently returned to work after the sudden and tragic death of his wife Becky.

Alfa Romeo return dependent on sales

There have also been rumours that Marchionne is planning to bring the Alfa Romeo brand back to F1, he is the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which owns Ferrari and Alfa. But the Italian described how this would only be possible on the successful sales of the company’s road cars.

He said: “It will depend on the success of the Giulia. Surely our participation will be limited to F1. We are not, however, available to run only as engine suppliers, but we would focus on a complete package like Ferrari.

Sergio Marchionne

“To finance the races you have to sell the cars. Today is only the beginning of a long road. ”

Do you think Ferrari can win in Spain? Would you like to see Alfa Romeo return to F1? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1

That worked well didn’t it? Ferrari out qualified by RBR for the first time in over a year, and further behind Mercedes than we’re used to. Neither driver looked to get the very best laps they could either.
Bosses should know: speak early to draw the sting from bad news, if you expect good news shut up and then claim or share credit for the result.

2

Unless Merc have issues – be they organic or for the cameras as Sebee suggests – Ferrari won’t be winning this Sunday. Not only are they much slower, t’s 1 car vs. 2 as Kimi doesn’t have the pace these days (sorry Kimi fans but you know it’s true).

Good marketing from Marchionne re Alfa. Hadn’t even heard of the new car until reading this post – hasn’t been marketed that strongly in the UK at least – so the tease of Alfa back in F1 get’s people talking about it. Return of Alfa just as likely as Ferrari winning on Sunday….

Fingers crossed for some close racing this weekend between the Mercs, even if it’s unlikely there will be much overtaking, the prospect of Lewis or Nico overtaking each other for the lead at least gives me a reason to keep watching past the first stop.

3

Why then did he out qualify him late last year & again in Bahrain this year too. Sure Vettel is the goto man but your absolutely right Kimi has found pace & Seb is feeling the heat.. China anyone?

4

Ah Ferrari, so near and yet so far. They’ve got a good car but it’s still not a Mercedes beater (not consistently anyhow, time will tell), however they certainly believe that they have a car capable of winning multiple races.
This is where the Vettel factor becomes very interesting. Last year there was no real pressure, no expectation, he outpaced Kimi, won three? races and all was a bed of roses. The difference this year is that the pressure is on; Ferrari expect to win races and there is an incumbent pressure that comes with driving a Ferrari. Vettel was almost immune to this pressure last year, but this year he is not. Having a car designed with Vettel in mind also helps Kimi as they like a good front end, therefore Kimi is keeping him far more honest this year. Indeed, currently Kimi has more points than Vettel (yes he’s had bad luck via retirements etc) but all these things add to the pressure. First he has to overhaul his team mate before he even thinks about Lewis or Nico.
In amongst all this, Ferrari expect Vettel to win (let’s be honest Kimi is a number two as far as Ferrari is concerned, their race strategies tend to support Vettel and Kimi is in the twilight of his career so it makes sense), so all of a sudden there’s significant pressure on Vettel to push a car onto the top step of the podium before it’s actually capable of it.
Vettel has proved he’s a quality driver, but the last time he was under true pressure there were some chinks in the armour. Ricciardo got the better of him when the RBR wasn’t a world beater, he was behind his team mate early in the Championship and little mistakes crept in.
This will be a telling year for Ferrari (& Vettel), as should the power units in 2017 be as close as we’re led to believe you can guarantee that Red Bull will be back at the front and McLaren won’t be dormant forever.

The pressure is starting to build on Sebastian and Ferrari, it will be an interesting season ahead……

5

This is the pressure that is keeping Ferrari behind, chasing performance before reliability, running engines and turbos at full power longer than they can handle.

Corporate can not make racing decisions when the best performance is based on calculated incremental gains and level headed thinking.

The pressure to win the next race is not necessary, bcause when Merc wins this race the presuure will double at the next race till a blow up.

So the car that Montezemolo built won three races last year and Marchionne’ s car has not won anything. I now wonder who head is really on the chopping block… Himself or the F1 team?

6

Hey, I want to work for Ferrari someday… I want to get fired by Ferrari two months later someday…

7

Quite frankly i don’t see how ferrari are going to beat mercedes if the top six get away cleanly and there are no mishaps. i would estimate that ferrari need to find around seven tenths just to be competitive and considering all the flannel that wolff is putting about i cannot see where that is coming from? i simply don’t believe wolff will be turning anything down and they will dominate as they have done for so long. As to an upset result, well that is also on the cards as a variable, if the front runners don’t get clear air but who knows. quali should be most interesting as there are a few reputations now on the line with a few new placement drivers all seeking to lay down a marker as well. be surprised though if mercedes are not 1/2 as per usual.

8

Fiat Chrysler does not own Ferrari, as Fiat Chrysler distributed the 80% of shares not sold in Ferrari IPO to Fiat Chrysler shareholders. Yes, Marchionne is Chairman and CEO of both companies, which indicates that either:
1. These two companies are quite simple, easy to manage and their strategies are straightforward and fixed, or
2. There is a severe shortage of management and leadership talent in the USA, Italy and the car industry, or
3. Sergio Marchionne has a seriously inflated view of himself, and lackeys on the FCA and RACE boards.

I’ll let the reader decide which…

9

Marchionne is using all the wrong kinds of pressure on his people. You don’t stand there and flog a dead horse by telling them they’re going to win or else, pointing your finger right between their eyes. That only makes people put on the brakes. If he can’t do anything other than generate a chronically elevated level of tension, he should just stay out of the way altogether.

10

There’s a bit of commentary and rumours that Arrivabene might be facing the chop. Any truth to that? Marchione’s expectation for a Spanish win surely can’t help ease the pressure….

11

I posted in Alex’s piece that my enquirers in Itsly indicate this is just a rumour

12

Well, I did say during testing that the Ferrari PU will subject to reliability issues. It is no rocket science really, if you push for performance, pushing the envelope, something’s gonna give.

13

So they would draft Aldo Costa back in as technical chief? Why would they do that after sacking him in 2013?

14

Marchionne’s over-logical attitude isn’t doing this team any favors. Either he can’t seem to grasp why ‘I expect them to win’ doesn’t equal ‘they will win,’ or he’s consciously ramping up the pressure on a team that we’ve all lauded for their rapid progress over the past year and a half. Either way, how terribly short-sighted. Personally, I hope he breaks Ferrari, though he doesn’t seem the sort to learn a lesson from it.

15

If Ferrari want to win they need to make a faster car

16

Perhaps I’m reading this the wrong way, English not being my native tongue, but if Marchionne is saying Alfa will build both car and engine if and when, I say hats off to the man. I thought he was the worst thing that could happen to FIAT/Ferrari, but this is exactly the way to go. Our friend Saward is always talking about how clever it is when brands put their badges on cars developed by others, I’m glad Marchionne disagrees. F1 is about talented people developing fast cars, not about clever marketing.

17

James just a quick one renault/redbull are predicting powerplant upgrade will put them on a par with ferraris powerplant Do you think this will move Redbull ahead of ferrari due to there chassis ?

18

Ricciardo will be worth a bet for Monaco. The RB looks a very good car and the power will be less important around there.

19

I’d expect RB to move ahead of Ferrari if the reliability of the Renault PU holds up. Plus RB is investing a lot of money in Full car dyno, they can test the car and PU components under racing conditions. Therefore, can predict the expected life of each components more accurately. Replacing them before they fail.
Also, surely RB is not going to pass this valuable information to Renault. Therefore, the gain would be greater for RB than Renault.

20

I’d be surprised if they equal Ferrari PU with one step

Red Bull chassis certainly better so if the PU is within a few tenths then they should be there. Very hard to be precise

21

RB 3rd and 4th !
Young Max did very well.

22
Stephen Taylor

James if Ferrari is not successful again soon then shouldn’t the Ferrari board be forcing Marchionne to pay for the company’s F1 failures with his own job? I thought one of things Marchionne was brought in to do when he replaced LDM as well as increase road car sales was help the race team structure itself to be successful again . He has not done this in my view and should be removed other board members of FCA group if a championship is not won in the next two seasons . More to the point failure in the long run could begin to affect road car sales. Ferrari should also withdraw permanently from F1 at the end of 2020 if they haven’t won a championship by then and try WEC instead. End of rant.

23

Honestly, interesting points. I wonder how Bernie will play it for 2020. It very well may be…take it or leave or scenario he offers up.

24
Stephen Taylor

James if Ferrari is not successful again soon then shouldn’t the Ferrari board be forcing Marchionne to pay for the company’s F1 failures with his own job? I thought one of things Marchionne was brought in to do when he replaced LDM as well as increase road car sales was help the race team structure itself to be successful again . He has not done this in my view and should be removed other board members of FCA group if a championship is not won in the next two seasons . More to the point failure in the long run could begin to affect road car sales. Ferrari should also withdraw permanently from F1 at the end of 2020 if they haven’t won a championship by then and try WEC instead. End of rant.

25

He said: “I am confident. Sunday will be an important day.
——————————-

Ever since Alonso said he was confident of winning the title in 2010 after Silverstone, likewise, he said he was sure of winning the title after Spa 2012… maybe the word confident is a jinxed word

Likewise, Vettel said he was confident for the race in Bahrain after qualifying but then retired with mechanical problems.

On the topic of Vettel and Kimi, if Sergio is happy with both their work, could we see Kimi getting retained for another season.

26

Only driver worth ditching Kimi for is Ricciardo, which is a longshot with you know who there.

27

@ NickH

A certain Doctor V *wink*wink*nudge*nudge*

28

Good to be optimistic but….
The Alfa sports cars have been a sales flop in the USA ( about 200 sold) in spite of positive reviews. I think he’s using an Alfa F1 return as a threat to Arivibenne to up his game. Sort of like when Enzo used to threaten Alfa with his starting his own team, which he ultimately did.

29

This guy’s a blowhard. Ask the Fiat dealers in the US how their promised Alfas are selling.
Oh, wait, no Alfas.
He appears to be ready to sell Chrysler to Google to finance Fiat in Europe.

30

Ferrari won’t win on sheer pace, its clear they have only closed slightly on Mercedes. But the way things are in F1, Ferrari are due to take a turn at the top again unless Honda get first dibs from Bernie and Todt.

31

Off topic;
Seems like Verstappen, Kvyat and Sainz will be sitting together in the driver’s press conference tomorrow.
Now that could be interesting?

32
Carlos Marques

Fans: The only way Ferrari will win this weekend is if someone crashes into both Mercedes on lap 1.

Kvayt: Why is everyone looking at me?!

33

Guess its been decided already which 3 races will Mercedes throw away this season !

34
Carlos Marques

So….everyone is wishing for a “trouble-free weekend”. Is this code for super-boring-race-where-nothing-happens-and-the-engineers-just-have-to-watch-for-delta-times-and-tire-management-lap-after-lap-after-lap?

Mercedes wants a “trouble free weekend” = 1-2 victory where drivers don’t fight with each other (due to “water pressure issues”) and arrive 45 seconds ahead of everyone else.

Ferrari wants a “trouble free weekend” = nobody crashes into their cars on lap 1, and they arrive 3rd and 4th (as usual) without any mechanical faults.

Toro Rosso wants a “trouble free weekend” = Code for “hope Kavyat won’t crash into anything expensive this weekend.”

Red Bull wants a “trouble free weekend” = Code for “crash into anything expensive and you’ll be driving a taxi cab back home in the Netherlands. No second chances around here rookie.”

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