Ferrari close enough to challenge in Spain? Marchionne drops in to find out
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 May 2016   |  8:23 am GMT  |  31 comments

Can Ferrari make a race of it in Barcelona? That is the question after a pair of free practice sessions in which the red cars looked to have very good pace on the soft tyres and to have unlocked the performance of the Russia and Spain upgrades.

The pace was much faster than 2015, albeit 0.9s of that lap time gain is the fact that they have soft tyres here, which were not available last year, when the medium was the fastest. Kimi Raikkonen, who looks very at home in this year’s car, was three seconds faster than Ferrari’s best in FP2 last year, which is an improvement of two seconds, allowing for the tyres.

Kimi Raikkonen

There is a faint whiff of optimism at Ferrari, which is positive and negative on a day when chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne is due to breeze into the F1 paddock to be ‘close to the team’. He piled the pressure on by saying that he expected Ferrari to start winning from Spain onwards and spoke after the mess of Sochi of being very unhappy ‘at seeing Ferrari suffer’, which is always a bit of a worry for the team when they hear that kind of coded language.

It gave rise to rumours in Italy at the start of the week that he is considering replacing team boss Maurizio Arrivabene with technical director James Allison. There will be more of that today when Marchionne speaks.

Asking around it seems that there is currently nothing in these rumours, but now that the genie is out of the bottle, it becomes a narrative that the key players have to respond to. We saw that yesterday with rousing support from the two drivers and a measured response from Arrivabene himself.

“Tension is part of the game,” he said, while emphasising that the current Mercedes set-up is, in his opinion, “the strongest F1 team of the last ten years.”

Maurizio Arrivabene

Vettel and Raikkonen, who owes his position to the lanky Italian’s support, both back him:

“He is the boss,” said Vettel. “And he’s managing this team very well, spending a lot of time with the boys here and at the factory. The rumours are nonsense.”

Raikkonen added: “Arrivabene is the right man, he’s doing an excellent job as the team principal at Ferrari. He’s the best we’ve ever had.”

The Finn added a note of optimism that the next few races should give Ferrari a chance to have a go at Mercedes. It’s already too late for both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships with Raikkonen and Vettel 63 and 67 points respectively behind Rosberg and Ferrari trailing Mercedes by 81 points.

Ferrari has brought upgrades here to add to those in Russia, from which there was still more to unlock. Mercedes would like to keep Ferrari at arm’s length, with upgrades of its own, which would eventually demoralise the Italians, if they could not get closer despite all their efforts.

Sebastian Vettel

One thing is clear, despite all the changes and updates, the old characteristics of Mercedes being superior on the harder tyres still holds true. The teams will race on softs at the start, but mediums are the way to go here in the race and the Mercedes is clearly faster on the long runs on mediums. Ferrari may have to try a more aggressive strategy, if its sums add up to allow it to make an extra stop.

In single lap qualifying mode the Ferrari is very fast, but the problem is that at the end, as we all know, Mercedes will turn up the engine to its maximum mode for the decisive runs and gain that extra 3 or 4 tenths that Ferrari doesn’t have.

“Ferrari looks like it is going very well at this circuit,” said the championship leader, Rosberg. “I can’t wait for qualifying to see how fast we really are because because Ferrari looks a threat to me.”

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It looks to me like it was a huge mistake not giving Red Bull Racing access to the Ferrari 2016 PU. Surely it would be better for a Ferrari engined car to be winning races rather than Mercedes. It would also give the Ferrari works team extra motivation to succeed, if Red Bull can win with the Ferrari engine, which I think they would, why can’t the works team. It would certainly cross the mind of Marchionne.


Nothing is going to change. Though Marchionne looks like remorseless lad. Ferrari cannot handle the pressure. We saw them back in 2010 and 2012 as well. They came very close despite the car deficit. Whereas in 2015 and 2016 the cars much better. Yet they cannot get close to Mercedes. More sacking is on the cards though


Sergio Marchionne is at the track? Perfect opportunity for Red Bull, Williams and the others to take points off Ferrari. His presence trackside almost always brings the worst out of the team.


HAHAHAHA So true!!! 😀


There was a interview with Luca Di Montezemolo where he was asked about his opinion on Michael Schumacher. Luca said “We’ve had many many great drivers who’ve driven for Ferrari in all these years, but none as important as Michael. Michael was not just fast, but he was a big influence on everything in the team. He brought stability “. I think this is what Ferrari is missing today. Ever since the horsemen left the stables, they are back to the old ways of “try everything and see if something sticks” strategy.

Michael brought calmness to the Scuderia. Him, Todt, Brawn stopped the ‘Russian Roulette’ culture at Ferrari. Today Ferrari lacks a strong leader. Sure, Vettel is a great driver and so is Kimi, but i don’t see a “big brother” Schumacher like character in them.

I wouldn’t fire Arribavene, he is not the problem, the engine, aero and lack of testing is hurting Ferrari badly. But if i was Sergio Marchionne, i would hire Ross Brawn as a consultant. It is said that Ross still has excellent relationship with Ferrari, so why not bring him back atleast part time ?


Rosberg given rope is the only reason Ferrari was close. Hamilton’s Q3 pace showed what the real potential of the Merc is.

That said Vettel needs to prove his worth now – the Red cars are genuinely quick he needs to ‘bring’ the performance out of them.

Give Ricciardio is due though, he brought it today and a nod to Verstappen, the race will be Interesting.

To change Arrivebene mid season would be foolish imo and makes little to no sense the team is strong only Merc is stronger.( maybe RedBull too……maybe, will see tomorrow)

But like Rosberg/Hamilton – a small shift could turn things on their head. To not hold course could set Ferrari back a year or so.

Torchwood Mobile

Puzzled. If the Ferarri drivers are 63 and 67 points adrift, why are the team only 81 points behind?

Shouldn’t they be the sum of the drivers’ points, 130, behind?


Really? ROS + HAM = 157. RAI + VET = 76. 157 – 76 = 81.


Because you forgot that its 63 and 67 points adrift with reference to Rosberg.. while ignoring to factor in Hamilton’s points which add to the equation for the team details (and not just doubling Rosbergs points to get the team points difference which would be the eqn for 130 points difference) Hopefully that made your day less puzzling and more happier!! 😀

Torchwood Mobile

Thank you for attempting to explain, you two.

Much appreciated.


I don’t think many people would doubt the business credentials of the current Ferrari Chairman. So, on that level he must be an intelligent guy to be leading half a dozen brands.

But his recent statement that he expects Ferrari to start winning in Spain left me wondering , either

A) he does NOT have in depth knowledge of F1. Ferrari maybe second best at the moment but the gap to Mercedes won’t just disappear in a week or so.

B) he does have in depth knowledge of F1. He probably has seen something behind the scenes which fans or journalists may not be aware of and feels Ferrari will make substantial jump in Spain to challenge for win.

C) By giving such statements he is laying ground work for things to follow !!!

Surely, the man credited with turning around the fortunes of Fiat would understand that piling this non-stop pressure is not going to do Ferrari any favours. So, what is his motive?


Maybe Bernie had a word in his ear and told him he (BCE) would get Toto to throw the race by turning their engines down. Unfortunately Bernie is fast losing his influence and he also forgot about Red Bull. The Ferrari win is going to take a miracle.


Sergio…dude! You’re gonna jinx it. Go home and watch it on TV!


Unfortunately I don’t see any team to give it a go at Mercedes any time soon.
Even worse, WDC seems to be over as well, only 4 races into a season.
I hope I’m waaaay wrong on this one, so at least we can see some battle for the championship, not only a sporadic race.


“The Finn added a note of optimism that the next few races should give Ferrari a chance to have a go at Mercedes. It’s already too late for both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships with Raikkonen and Vettel 63 and 67 points respectively behind Rosberg and Ferrari trailing Mercedes by 81 point”

For me this whats wrong with F1 at the moment. The points system needs adjusting because the championship is over and we’ve only had 4 races.

Lets hope Kimi can get on the top step this weekend. 🙂


What? Do you want a Chase format instead?

I have advocated strongly that the drivers’ championship should revert to a Best X of Y Results format, with say a best 16, 17, or 18 results out of the 21 total races.


Then why have 21 races if you’re only going to count 17…doesn’t make sense at all


“For me this whats wrong with F1 at the moment. The points system needs adjusting because the championship is over and we’ve only had 4 races”

The points system is fine – It’s been used in some of the best seasons we’ve seen in recent years (2010 & 2012 in particular).

The problem is that with one team so dominant it looks terrible, but if by chance there’s a couple Merc retirements and Ferrari and/or Red Bull take advantage then that gap will drop fast.

Double edged sword.


Yeah … Let’s bring back the double points finale ????


Shhh…don’t even whisper it…

Sir Henry Rawlinson

If optimistic talk, and the desire of journalists for a story, powered the cars then it would be a Ferrari 1-2

Harry Snapper Organs

Hear hear. How much hype, drivel, and sheer nonsense about a Ferrari resurgence do we have to endure from the marketeers?!
Forget about 3 or 4 tenths!
RAI is 1.1seconds behind HAM! Joke!!
How many laps is this race?
Can Merc lap the field??
Obviously they NEVER would; for that achieves not one additional point but…..


Surely they’d be 3-4 behind a McLaren 1-2 in that case. ????

Suffered through many false dawns when Lewis was at McLaren.


Certainly Barcelona and Monaco are not the ideal tracks for Ferrari to take the fight to Mercedes considering the fact it’s very difficult to overtake

In other words the race for the win will be pretty much decided after qualifying

As for Arrivabene I always thought he is the right man to take Ferrari back to winning ways because his name is similar to the english word >>> arrived


Arriva – bene meanns arrive – well


Arrivabene is their best bet. He’s a character, he’s a leader, and he’s doing a great job. Mercedes is a very strong, well-oiled machine at the moment.

There’s no guarantee that Allison could handle the pressure of being Ferrari team principal. They say England team manager is an impossible job … being Ferrari team principal might even be worse.



Come to think of it, I think Ferrari work better when they’re under multi-cultural management.

I believe their last Italian team principal to win titles was in the 70s


“Certainly Barcelona and Monaco are not the ideal tracks for Ferrari to take the fight to Mercedes considering the fact it’s very difficult to overtake”

Ahhh but that’s where Ferrari’s biggest advantage might be – If one or both of the Ferraris can jump both Mercs off the line as they have done recently then as you said, it’s difficult to overtake 🙂


@ Random 79

Yes, this would be a good trick however, recent races indicate Mercedes could have solved their start problems


Well Lewis got Pole
And Red Bull locked out 2nd Row.
Max gave one he’ll of a scare to Ricciardo.
Ferrari struggled & by the start of Monaco Arrivabene will be sacked and Allison in charge.



Well it was a surprise that Ferrari were not on the second row of the grid.

Ferrari upgrades haven’t been working for quite some time

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