Mattiacci: I thought the call from Montezemolo was a late April Fool’s joke

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Ferrari‘s new team principal, the hitherto virtually unknown Marco Mattiacci revealed to media in Shanghai that he thought Luca di Montezemolo’s offer to lead the legendary Maranello outfit was a belated April Fool’s joke. He also explained that the reason he has been wearing dark sunglasses throughout his first day on the job is simply because he has not slept for four days.

Speaking to journalists in Shanghai Mattiacci revealed, “I received a call at 5.58 on [last] Friday morning. The [prezident] Montezemolo was on the phone and told me, ‘This is my idea’ and I thought that April Fool was already far away, 15 days late.

“But then after the second, third minute of discussion I understand that it was not [a joke], it was serious. I understood that because there was already a ticket ready to go from New York to Milan after three hours! I arrived Saturday morning at Maranello at the Fiorano track.”

Although Mattiacci is hardly known in Formula 1 circles, he said with conviction, “I love racing. I race myself in my spare time.”

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The project, which has come out of the blue for the Italian economics graduate of University La Sapienza, is one he is relishing, “It is very motivating for me. I accept it because I think sometime you can bring a new perspective, looking at issues and opportunities.”

“The fact [is] that I need to prove that I am [at] the level of Ferrari, first, and the level of Formula 1. So it’s here in front of you – an extremely motivated person,” Mattiacci explained.

“As I told you, this is a different perspective, not in terms of sporting team, but definitely assembling a team. Working with people, managing people of different nationalites with diversity, diversity in the industry and nationality, so I will try to bring some best practice but definitely this is a very specific culture, I am aware of it.”

“Time of reaction is completely different. You need to do things that had to happen yesterday not in two months like in corporate. I come with a lot of humility to understand and to work very hard. This is what I can commit to the team, to the drivers, who are the best drivers in the world. I am a person that will listen and will fight 150 per cent to utilise the best of the talent that is within Ferrari.”

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As for changes to the team which has under-delivered for quite some time now, Mattiacci said, “It’s too early for me to make such statements.”

“What I know is I worked in Ferrari since 14 years, I’ve been in the last four days in Maranello in the Gestione Sportiva. I think we have an amazing group of talented people, we have a history and pedigree that is unique, a pride that is impressive, so to talk about restructuring is too early.”

“Definitely Mr. Montezemolo is extremely focused on giving any kind of support to the team and, if needed, to go on the market. But clearly to [only] go in the market if you really believe there is going to be an added value and impact to this team.”

Throughout the overcast and gloomy opening day of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend Mattiacci was spotted in the paddock wearing dark shades, he explained, “It’s a very good question. In particular, if you do in less than four days almost 40 hours of flights and you don’t sleep in the last four days probably you need sunglasses!”

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