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Pre-Shanghai analysis - Ferrari hoping for revival under Mattiacci

18 Apr 2014

As Stefano Domenicali’s replacement, Marco Mattiacci, prepared for his first weekend as Ferrari team principal, the Italian company’s president Luca di Montezemolo promised a return to winning ways very quickly.

"I will help him, I will do like I did in the past,” Montezemolo vowed on Thursday. “I will stay closer to Formula One, I'll spend more time on it. The first person not satisfied at the moment is me, but don't worry, I'm putting myself on the line: Mattiacci is the right choice, we'll get back to winning ways very soon.

"I've decided to go for a young manager I strongly believe in, and for a person from the Ferrari family, thus avoiding me going around the world looking for some mercenary.”

He stressed that Mattiacci’s lack of F1 expertise won’t be a problem - something we heard from Ferrari back in 1991 when there was the management shake-up in the wake of Alain Prost’s sacking – and that the appointment had the full support of FIAT CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Fernando Alonso revealed that he had yet to speak with the new boss, while Kimi Raikkonen admitted that he wasn’t sure whether he’d met him previously. The 42-year-old is expected to attend this weekend’s race. “I don't know if he is coming here, I guess so," Alonso said. "It will be a good time to welcome him but I have really not much to say. I drive the car and hopefully he will be good enough to recognise what are the weak areas of the team, what are the strong areas of the team.

"I think we need to give him time and try to see how he settles down. It’s too early to say if it’ll be very good or very bad. We need to make sure we have the facilities ready, or the technical staff ready, and put him in a condition to feel comfortable from Day One."

Meanwhile, Raikkonen said that Domenicali's decision had been unexpected. "I think everyone is a bit surprised but obviously it was Stefano's own decision as I understand it," he said. "If he felt like that, fair enough. Life goes on. He was a great guy. I worked with him for many years and I spoke to him often. But that's how it goes. We can handle this sort of thing."

While Montezemolo hailed Domenicali’s courage in stepping down when he no longer felt the desire to manage the team, Alonso was also supportive of a man he regards as a friend.

"After 23 years with us, Stefano has had the courage of resigning, a rare occurrence in our country. He pays for the lack of results, it's a rule in sports," Montezemolo said boldly.

"But let me remind you that since 2007 we have won three world titles and we have nearly won as many more, a couple of them at the season's finale."

"Stefano decided he was probably not in the mood to continue anymore," Alonso told reporters. “And with the feeling of taking on weight on the shoulders, he made a very responsible move. It’s not easy when you have a very privileged position in an F1 team to be able to step back and say maybe it is better to move. He did, for Ferrari to improve and for their interest, so that is something that we cannot forget. We have to respect that decision."

Ferrari think Bahrain, where they finished only ninth and tenth as Alonso led Raikkonen home, was always going to be one of their toughest races, and expect to be stronger from now on anyway, regardless of the effect of Domenicali's absence.

David Tremayne