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Ferrari is facing a bit of a cliff-edge moment in its rich history. The resignation of team boss Stefano Domenicali and the assignment of Marco Mattiacci as new team boss is a bit of a surprise for those who orbit Scuderia Ferrari as mere fans and pundits.

Current driver Fernando Alonso has urged critics to be patient with Marco until he gets his sea legs and suggests that he will prove himself in time. He certainly did as Ferrari North America’s president so one might be wise to tarry a bit prior to offering damnation on a plan.

Ferrari doesn’t offer V6 turbo engines to their customers. They have not been fans of the new regulations. They, unlike Mercedes and Renault, were not threatening to leave F1 if the series didn’t become more germane to their green marketing and development efforts.

Having said that, Ferrari did take the opportunity to create the LaFerrari which is their first hybrid super car and perhaps it was an effort to pre-test their F14T chassis prior to the 2014 season or simply a knock-on of the technology they were developing for the F1 car. One cannot say they aren’t trying to offer a car that matches the Zeitgeist.

While fans and detractors chuckle at the arm-waving and eye-rolling of president Luca di Montezemolo’s performance in Bahrain, the prudent observer would be wise to not underestimate the intelligence, power, control and cunning of a team as comprehensively popular and iconic as any known corporation on the planet.

Are Ferrari behind the proverbial 8-ball? Sure. Are they down on power and pace? Absolutely. Are they unhappy with the current regulations in F1? You bet. Are they a Neolithic car company on the wane and without brilliant leadership, engineering and resources? Hell no!

Ferrari may not be leading the 2014 F1 championship but they have done more for the sport of F1 than Red Bull or Mercedes combined so some quarter should be given when considering giving the raspberries to the Italian squad over their new team boss selection.

I found last week’s commentary, offered by “non-executive” chairman of Mercedes Niki Lauda, castigating Luca di Montezemolo for his outspoken position on the current format of F1 interesting. One of the reasons Niki was a rent-a-quote for F1 journalists during his hiatus form F1 is because of his “no bullshit” approach and being outspoken about what is wrong with F1.

Last week’s diatribe was an utterly compliant, affable and endorsing Lauda who seemed to really like these new regulations now that the team is winning. The Niki Lauda I recall would have slated the change and reasoned the move as pragmatic bandwagon mentalities while claiming it all “total bullshit”.

One thing F1 fans say they want is candid, outspoken characters in F1 but when Luca opens his mouth and says the new format is left wanting, well, the audacity of his saying things publicly is simply base behavior. Odd…coming from Niki—in fact, it’s “total bullshit”.

This format isn’t fitting Ferrari’s reason for being and while it may cater to Renault and Mercedes and presumably Honda, it isn’t a big hit with the Italian team. As for Red Bull? They don’t have a knife in the fight—as a team who doesn’t make engines or road cars—so they just seem intent on pummeling the fuel-flow meter as the proverbial punching bag and bane of their existence.

I’ve been to Ferrari and in areas not usually seen by tourists. I’ve looked behind the curtain and met the team responsible for the new power unit and chassis. I know first hand how committed, resource sensitive, dedicated, passionate and epic they truly are. There is no one like Ferrari and while that may seem a wild boast, it is fact. McLaren has its own panache and culture that perhaps one day I will get a chance to see so I reserve room for iconic brands but no one does it like Ferrari.

Ferrari’s history is littered with good, bad and tragic consequences, decisions and outbursts. But that is what makes Ferrari the company it is. Even Apple had its less than savory side but that made them a historic company.

Ferrari’s outbursts, threats and posturing is all part of the milieu and while those in the know can determine when it’s smoke screens and when it’s serious, I tend to think that it adds to the overall appeal to F1 in total. It’s controversy that is interesting to fans and adds tension to the sport.

Ferrari are in it to win it but they haven’t done so for some time now and they run the risk of losing Fernando Alonso who is, arguably, the best driver on the grid. They have Kimi Raikkonen in the second car and no shortage of resources but missing the mark in 2014 is not acceptable so changes were made.

They don’t wait for the end of the year to see where they are. They made a big, quick decision because their passion for doing what they do is being damaged by the illness that is losing. The very core DNA that makes Ferrari is being eroded by the cancer of failure and that is not something anyone in Maranello takes lightly.

Will Marco be the man to turn it all around? Time will tell but status quo wasn’t working so Luca made a huge change and time will tell if it was the right one. Luca said he wasn’t looking for mercenaries and while there are times and reasons that justify hiring a mercenary, perhaps the future goal of Ferrari is to have leadership that is completely steeped in the brand and sales of their road cars in order to understand how to bridge that gap.

Perhaps having a leader from the road car division is missing your keen eye. Isn’t this what the cult of the 2014 regulations are chanting? Road car relevancy, tehcnology and sustainability? If that’s the case, what’s shocking about having a person join the team from the road car side of the operation? You know, McLaren just did the same thing by bringing Ron Dennis back in the F1 team leadership? Ron was running their road car division for the past several years. Is anyone mocking them for such a move?

Is anyone mocking Mercedes for having a bigger road car influence on F1? What about Renault demanding that F1 match their road car format in order to keep the in the series? That’s all fine but when Ferrari hires a leader in their road car operation as the head of the F1 team, well that’s silliness. Actually that’s “total bullshit”.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • JasonI

    I am mocking all of them for:

    1. Thinking that what they were doing had no road car relevance.

    2. Giving two shits about road car relevance. Win races and people will notice your car.

  • Mansell’s_Stache
  • Rapierman

    I dunno, Todd. It all sounds like “World Wrestling Entertainment” to me. I got bored with that sort of thing.

  • Peet218

    Sounds like you’ve been drinking the Ferrari Kool-aid on your visits. The have been engine formats other than V-8 and V-12 over the years and you make it sound like this is a first. This change was programmed with plenty of time to prepare and Mercedes seems like the only team that did their homework. Ferrari seems more like a child wanting to change the rules because the rules don’t suit them.

  • Jim

    I think part of what Ferrari dislikes about the new regulations is the fact that while they may be ‘road relevant’ to the other engine manufacturers and even to a lesser extent to Ferrari’s La Ferrari, it is not brand relevant to Ferrari. While I’m sure that Ferrari are being more outspoken against the new engine formula because they are struggling, I think it’s fair to say that there is more to it than that.

    Imagine if instead of making the switch to the V6 turbo power unit, the new formula called for a normally aspirated V12. Even if the grid order remained the same as it is now and Ferrari failed to capitalize on the switch I doubt they would be so critical of the engine formula as it would be more symbiotic with their brand image.

  • Tim C

    Bringing back a former F1 man (Ron Dennis) to straighten out McLaren was a logical move. He has the knowledge and experience to take on that challenge. Bringing in Marco Mattiacci to fix Ferrari doesn’t make logical since . . . at least not to me. He has no F1 experience. That doesn’t sound like a good plan in my book.

  • JackFlash(Aust)

    No. Not arguably. Fernando Alonso IS the best overall driver on the F1 grid. Period. Love him or hate him, or something in-between; it’s statistical fact. So, you can leave the apologetic “arguably” out of references. Those who would choose to argue to the contrary, aren’t looking at hard data/fact, but letting fanboism overrule their logic. Best ignored.

    • UAN

      A statistical fact that Alonso is the best overall driver on the grid today? Could you expand on those facts? I’m not arguing one way or the other, just curious which ones and how definitive they are.

      btw, like your new avatar. I rate RIC tops among the young guns on the grid (i.e., BOT, PER, GRO, etc.), co-equal with Hulkenberg. I think he’s been underrated quite a bit at TR. Plus I just like him – honey badger for sure.

      • JackFlash(Aust)

        Hi UAN. It has been a while between discussions mate.
        The statistis to which I refer are third tier stats. These are the most balances tier of sporting stats useful for player/driver comparisons, because they rely on factoring three tiers of performance impact: Results; Team/Equipment; Longevity/Consistency.

        When all three tiers are reviwed together statistically, Fernando Alonso wins over Seb Vettel (close, but some daylight there), but a long way in front of the rest. For example, both Seb and Fred do well in the performance tier. Both score well in WDC and poles and laps led, with Seb being the stronger – as we know. However the next two tiers are Alonso’s to own. Team/ Equipment keeps track of the relative enabling quality of the team a player is playing in (football case), but for motor racing the team/equipment/car relative quality is the second tier comparative. Alonso has had a lower performing team producing equipment some percent less effective (seconds or fractions – track dependent). A standard mathematical Gauss normalisation curve weights tier 1 accomplishments in light of tier 2 handicaps.

        Tier 3 stats examination takes into account longevity/consistency of producing tier 1 results under tier 2 weighting challenges over periods/seasons. A single blazing year by a sportsman is not weighted 100% in year 1 of achievment. After doing consistently well against piers year after year, results of a 5 year latest window in a career are factored in final weighting. Seb does equally well at this area too.

        This is a pretty standard sports stats approach to factoring a more complete 3D view of sportman performances. If you just looked at tier 1, Seb Vettel romps in leader, but we all know professional achievment in sport is more than just the points won, or passes made: It is just as much how challenging it was for said person to compete amongst their piers, and how well they keep achieving above their station/team/car.

        FA will fall behind SV this year, if Vettel salvages the year in RBR better than FA can at Fez. Neither Ham or Ros could over haul either SV or FA, no matter how realistically spectacular eitber of them rakes in tier 1 stats. The tier 2 and tier 3 stat weightings will take the big picture view and put both of them back in proper pecking order. JF

        • Are you using a normal distribution curve to define driver performance? I haven’t taken stats since college, but it looks like you’re assigning arbitrary values to factors affecting driver performance, then use an equation solving for probability to determine hierarchical superiority. With probability, one’s trying determine the probability of an event (re) occurring within a time/space boundary, based upon previously plotted data, not a valuation on the data points themselves.

          Furthermore, driver performance, even in isolation, is a conditional variable (my term), not a random event, which is what Probability’s based upon. Add mitigating factors such as equipment/team personnel and it’s clear ranking the drivers is anything but a probability question.

          I could be wrong on it’s usage, so if I am, please correct me. Some questions:

          -What were you trying to solve for using normal equation? Not who’s best, numerical value, like frequency of wins or something. After this

          -What variable did you choose for equipment performance (what you call Tier1)? Wins, poles, fastest laps, championships?

          -For “Tier 2,” how does handicapping Tier 1 affect the bell curve? What numerical value did you assign team/equipment, like a 1 RBR, then sequentially down from there?

          -What was the deviation of your distribution?

          Those are some questions just off the top of my head. They’re scattershot, as I don’t understand what you’re solving for, or how normal equation solves it.

          To me, each driver’s results, and the consistency of past results can be plotted, but they’re neither a predictor of future performance nor proof of a driver’s skill relative to another. Equipment quality and team personnel skill can’t be quantified numerically, both of which are critical to quantifiable driver results.

          Note, I happen to agree with you, Alonso is, over the balance of his career, the most complete or “best” driver currently on the grid. However, my opinion is subjective and speculative, with no quantifiable data. I’ll be interested in seeing yours.

        • I believe Grace is familiar w/ polling and thus would think has a stronger grasp on Statistics than me; if you’re around, how would you use stats/probability to rank drivers?

          Perversely, I’d enjoy seeing the drivers “Moneyball’ed.”

          For non baseball fans: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabermetric

        • UAN

          Jack, fascinating stuff. Do you have any links that provide for more info on all this, and shows the breakdown of drivers over their careers?

          • JackFlash(Aust)

            Hi UAN and Jeff.
            I would love to answer you both re in depth answers on 3-tier sportsman peer evaluations, but I am currently moving house 2,100 km across Australia at the moment, hence I am without a PC. Typing detailed and long explanations on my smartphone is painfull and frankly near impossible on Mobile Webpage formats.

            So if you can indulge me a week and a bit; I’ll answer in full including web refs and formulaic expressions when I have my PC portal back up.

            For now; to whet your interests, the 3-tier sportsman peer evaluation approach is one developed by Fantasy Sports sites years ago. You know, the football type which rates/ prices players for putting in your fantasy team under salary cap. Well this F1 version was developed from this base but tailored for team motorsports circumstances. F1-Fanatic.com.uk had it described a couple seasons ago on Blog Thread. I’ll see if I can dig out direct URL. Cheers guys. I’m off for a 2,100 drive in a few days time in my baby — a worked Holden/GM Monaro coupe with Chev 350 ci V8 @ 280 kW (~375 bhp), Devil yellow. Woohoo. Look out highways. Brrrrrrmmmmm. JF

          • UAN

            Hi Jack, a move isn’t always the most fun, but 2100km in the Monaro sounds like a blast! Any speed limits tooling through the outback there?

            I’ll see if I can find some info over at F1Fanatic too (but shhhh, don’t tell Todd ;).

            Hope your move is a smooth one!

          • Jack, what a mixture of pain and pleasure. Best of luck on the move.

            Is that Monaro the model we in the US received as the GTO in the mid-2000’s? If so, yellow was the launch color here, and the one that IMO looked best I preferred its modern, “looking forward sleekness” over the tired retro movement here in the States; a lovely car.

            Never had the privilege of driving one, but the LS series is one of the world’s great motors. Perhaps time for AFR heads and an Ed Curtis/FTI camshaft? :D

            Enjoy your drive!

          • JackFlash(Aust)

            UAN & Jeff.
            [1]. I’m moving from Brisbane to Adelaide. So I can catch up with Adam Vella for F1 pub discussions soon. The roads between these points are all main highways with 100 to 110 km/hr speed limits. The open (no) speed limits roads in Oz are not on my route on the Eastern side of a country 5,500 km wide. Oh well. Cruisin’ in 6th gear at 1800 rpm doing 110km/hr on cruise control is not so bad. Every now and then I’ll open her up for a fast accel, wind out to 5000 rpm on gear changes to 4th to liven it up. No gross speeding though. Too risky.

            [2]. The Monaro is Sept 2003 VY-2 with LS1 Chev 350 and 6 speed manual trans. 4th is 1:1, 5th is 0.75:1 and 6th gear ratio 0.5:1. Diff 3.75:1. This model was the predecessor to the 2004 Exported Pontiac GTO sent to USA, and has almost the same styling as the export version for Pontiac rebadge. The Devil Yellow is a signature colour for Monaro coupe.

            [3]. The stock LS1 running on our standard unleaded gasoline (91 RON) was a 245 kW peak power 500 Nm torque engined car. I changed my Monaro’s LS1 to have proper headers, cold air direct induction, 3 inch twin SS exhaust and large flow catalytic converters and a complete engine re-map to push out to 280 kW and 560Nm peaks. I am quite content with this modest LS1 tweek up. If I was to look at going the next level then a camshaft change and an Eaton 12 bar valley mount Supercharger would be on my wish list. But honestly, for what reason could I justify a 400 kW+ car? A bit nuts really. JF

  • The Maranello squad have a bolt-on to the formula – 2.5% off the top.

    With preferential treatment and a hearing from the overlords that Sauber would be grateful for; if power, money and prestige cannot urge them to success, too right they’re going to make changes.

    By bringing in the North American man, maybe they’re hoping for some of the ‘Only winners count’ gusto prominent in that continent. Or more likely Marios famed arse-kicking foot will be in operation until a more fitting pedigree has finished fishing.

  • Benalf

    I don’t think LdM move makes any sense. Urgent situations requires experience people to solve them. This seems more like a marketing move. It won’t help the team in the short term….not sure about the long one.

  • I’m late to the game, but let me throw in my 5 cents as well.

    1) Regarding Lauda: I really don’t think he’s faking it. Sure, he’s now working for the winning team, but I’m sorry Todd, not everybody hates this new formula. Sure, Lauda has every reason to love it given the circumstances, but I don’t think it’s out of character at all for him to appreciate technological advancement.

    2) Regarding Ferrari’s history: Again it looks to me as if you’re perspective is heavily one sided. Both Daimler and Benz cars were raced before Enzo Ferrari was even born and Renault won its first motor race when Enzo was still drooling on his mothers lap while being fed. Both Mercedes and Renault won races left and right before Ferrari ever entered the scene and when they did, they ran Alfa Romeo cars.
    Yes, among the current F1 teams, they have the longest uninterrupted F1 track record, but to say that they’re special is somewhat disrespectful of everyone else, both in terms of history but also regarding the people working currently on the grid giving it their all, from Red Bull to Marussia. I’m pretty sure every employee at Marussia is equally dedicated as the guys at Ferrari.