Analysis: Mattiacci going back to basics

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While Ferrari's structure is undergoing some surgery, we ponder over what led to the team's dip in success and what could serve as a remedy for its decaying form

It has been four months that Ferrari’s long-serving team boss Stefano Domenicali stepped down at the Gestione Sportiva. In came someone very unknown for Formula One. Whether this has been the right move is still unknown, but change is happening.

Possibly in defense of bringing a Matiacci into the sport was the introduction of Flavio Briatore to Benetton years ago. Briatore had been a restaurant manager and an insurance salesman before getting involved into the business of Italian fashion company Benetton. He was then promoted by Luciano Benetton to manager of the Benetton Formula One team, soon converting the team to a winning business, possibly thanks to his flamboyant style that was a sharp contract to most F1 team managers at the time.

A similar turnaround, but that at Ferrari, was realised by Jean Todt when he made the switch from rally to managing Ferrari. Todt led the Scuderia between 1993 and 2007, having converted ancient ruins at Maranello into a all conquering team. He never thought of giving up and under his leadership Ferrari enjoyed a devastating period with the quartet of Schumacher, Byrne, Brawn and Todt.

All eyes are now pointing to Marco Mattiacci, an Italian with a proven management track record. He does face some challenging months and will undoubtedly have to go through some hard-fought lessons. After seemingly getting lost in the new environment, he came back in a different mode and showed Ferrari is on the verge of sweeping changes and is ready to climb any steep mountain which comes its way.

Two years ago when I spoke to the former press chief Luca Colajanni, I realized how important Italy is to Ferrari. When I asked him what one needs to be part of the Ferrari family, he answered without hesitation: „You have to speak Italian.’ This of course applies to everyone bar the senior figures and drivers. I asked myself whether it is the right approach in our present when you should be on top of your game in every single area. Nine teams out of eleven are located in England, most of the squads have long list of suppliers from all over the globe. Is it really smart to set boundaries around you? Ferrari was Italian, is Italian and desperate to stay Italian. It is proud of having a charming background, but it appears that gradually the team is realizing that they cannot be reluctant to adopt proven working methods from elsewhere. It is mandatory to open your door, get a hold of know-how when it may be an improvement.

Listening to Mattiacci’s words makes it obvious that the new Team Principal is ready to support this cultural shift. This means the team has to establish new connections. The Italian is more than aware that suppliers do not just supply their products, but rather "give intelligence". Indeed, the team seemingly attempted to try to do everything itself, an idea that Mattiacci attempts to ban from Maranello. Some companies can do "some things better then us", he said recently.

The Italian is also urging his team to be more creative once again, challenging engineers to "embrace risk". One does not need to go decades back to see how Ferrari earned success. Their innovations, to push the boundaries of rules enabled them to make the best of the actual rules. Their superior aerodynamic package between 2006 and 2008 with innovation like extreme turning vanes, hole in the nose of the F2008 machinery, their flexi-wings all contributed to the team's shiny past. However, when the aerodynamic and sporting regulations changed dramatically in 2009, a new approach was needed, and since then Ferrari have failed to make the necessary adjustments to take a World Championship.

It is however interesting to see that the changes thus far have not happened by signing big names. Instead, he aims to get the current people to get united and work as one man. What he intends is "to embrace the utmost co-operation". Co-operation also means people have to embrace new approach in taking responsibility. Mattiacci revealed some key figures introduced themselves to him by pointing their finger at others. The new captain strictly refuses this attitude and wants everyone ’to share responsibility.”

„We are setting up a strategy. It is gonna be for the next three years.” At the end of it Ferrari wants to be in contention for the title. For next year however they already want to lift their pace and fight for victories on a regular basis.

Whether Mattiacci’s attempt to revive Ferrari will succeed will be answered in due course. It is clear however that Ferrari seems to be dauntless to revive its glory days at the expense of deep changes to its approach.


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