Following a difficult 2014 campaign - their first winless season since 1993 - and the exit of Fernando Alonso, Ferrari have undergone a comprehensive management restructure, including the departures of former engineering director Pat Fry and chief designer Nikolas Tombazis.
“We will look towards 2015 with some optimism,” Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne said at a Christmas media lunch this week. “In the last few days we have made some sharp decisions on the make-up of the team and we know exactly who the key people are for development. We have taken away all the baggage of uncertainty which harmed the start of the work on the 2015 project.”
One of the biggest changes has been the arrival last month of Arrivabene, who took over from Marco Mattiacci (who in turn replaced Stefano Domenicali back in April), and the internal reshuffle he initiated, designed to provide ‘a flat structure and clear assignment of responsibilities’.
“I bring experience that has matured in my last company, the fact of knowing how to motivate people and to get the best out of them,” said Arrivabene. “In the company I’ve seen plenty of will to get things done: I am here to give the people my trust and to streamline the team. We won’t get anywhere individually, we have to work as a group.”
Replacing Alonso for 2015 is four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel who, like Ferrari, suffered a difficult 2014 season, failing to win for the first time since 2007. Marchionne insisted the former Red Bull star is very much aware of the challenge that awaits him in Maranello.
“I don’t think he’s naive, he knows our level of performance but this is the power of Ferrari: it manages to attract people even just based on its potential,” said Marchionne. “Our job for 2015 is to set this potential free. Vettel’s big gamble is ours too, to reconstruct the team and to make it grow.”
Vettel will partner Kimi Raikkonen, making Ferrari one of two teams - the other being McLaren - with two world champions in their 2015 line-up. On top of their obvious talent, Arrivabene believes the pair’s friendship will also prove an asset.
“I think Sebastian is well equipped for the job that awaits him,” he said. “He gets on very well with Kimi and this is a positive element, even if I hope that they won’t get on quite so well on the track, because the rule must remain that your team mate is your main opponent.”
On Ferrari’s 2015 prospects, Marchionne concluded: “I can guarantee the team is putting in a phenomenal effort. We have people here who are giving their absolute best and they have my full support. The important thing for us now is to give them courage and all the resources necessary to move forward and make the Scuderia grow.”
Ferrari finished fourth in the 2014 constructors’ championship, with Alonso’s second place in Hungary their best result of the year.