Mattiacci: Allison is head of the 2015 Ferrari project

Marco Mattiacci and his sunglasses!

Marco Mattiacci and his sunglasses!

Ferrari invited its fans to put questions to team principal, Marco Mattiacci, through Twitter and Facebookand there were hundreds of questions from around the world, which came in the space of a few hours. Here is a selection of answers from the Maranello team boss.

Does Ferrari really intend to return to the top of Formula 1? In that case isn’t it time to make its own weight felt to change it?
MM: To return to winning ways, the team must first think of improving itself, the performance of the group and the development of the car. We must be innovative and ahead of the others. As for making its weight felt, the voice of Ferrari, one of Formula 1’s main players, and is always listened to: clearly we need to work with common interests to truly understand what Formula 1 should be in the future. In any case we believe there are on going discussions that prove just what the opportunities are for improvement in a sport that is already per se phenomenal.

Have you already started work on the car for next year?
MM: Certainly. And we are doing so capitalising on the experience of 2014 which has, in its own way, been essential.

Have you made any decisions to try and improve the relationship between the engine and aerodynamics departments for 2015?
MM: Yes. Today James Allison is effectively the overall head of the project with a clear responsibility, and the coordination and supervision of the various divisions is up to him.

James Allison in charge of the technical side

James Allison in charge of the technical side in 2015

What have been your early impressions of how the Gestione Sportiva runs, either positive or negative?
MM: Gestione Sportiva is the result of over 60 years of racing, a great vision, phenomenal drivers and impressive engineering, When I arrived I had the impression of entering in the heart of a legend. I therefore came here with the utmost respect and curiosity.There is a need for leadership and a clear vision to get back to the top again, starting with elements that are in our DNA, including tradition, innovation and a hunger for wins.

When you accepted the offer to take the helm of Scuderia Ferrari, did you think the situation was as bad as it looked from the outside?
MM: The team turned out to be what I expected. We have a very strong base, a great tradition, because our company was born out of a race team and we are working to make the team more compact and to get back to being competitive as soon as possible.

What are the three main changes you have introduced?
MM: We are applying a change to our working methods, adopting a new approach and a strategy that can make us more competitive. We have decided to invest in new infrastructures and people to create a more modern and slimmed down organization, but one that at the same time puts the emphasis on the team and on individuality. It is equally important to give everyone the chance to express their talent to the maximum. Putting this aside, historically, Ferrari has been and will always be ever more the maximum authority in motorsport.

Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari F14T

Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari F14T

What do you think was the biggest mistake made in planning the F14T?
MM: There were some decisions from the technical point of view that didn’t pay off as well as those of our rivals. But I think that this type of discussion should be dealt with inside the team. We are very clear about the areas where we are uncompetitive. It boils down to a mid-to-long-term path that we will try to speed up as much as possible but that in general requires strategic preparation that is very different to what we’ve done in the past.

Aldo Costa and Luca Marmorini said a lot of interesting things about Ferrari, especially about the ‘chaos’ inside the team. What is your opinion about their statements?
MM: I think working for Ferrari, as I said since my first day in this role, is not a regular job: it’s a mission. I believe therefore it’s extremely difficult for anybody to leave Ferrari. However, in a professional world, I like people that always fight for their ideas and challenge the status quo, in the right place and without settling for compromise.

Don’t you think it would be better to have a championship with 16 races and more testing (which is useful for development) with the paddock open to the fans, at least at tests?
MM: I think that it is important to extend Formula 1’s user base, both physically and in terms of media, to as many countries as possible. At the same time I consider it crucial to bring tests back to our sport: this is to give the chance for talented young drivers to grow and to be put to the test, and to allow the teams to make progress on their own cars and to come up with new solutions. But above all however, tests could be used to bring the public closer to Formula 1, it is to transform the tests into the central element to bring the public back closer to our sport, with more of a focus on entertainment involving individual fans.

Ferrari fans

Ferrari fans

When do you think we could see Ferrari fighting for the world championship?
MM: What I can promise is that we are working as hard as possible to return to being competitive in the shortest time possible, to offer our fans weekends that can give more hope that we can fight for the win right up to the final kilometre and the final bend.

How would you describe in all honesty your relations with employees?
MM: First among equals… I am one of them.

What relationship does a Team Principal have with the engineers working at Maranello?
MM: The Team Principal has the job of bringing leadership, to establish targets and to offer the workers a comprehensive vision, which goes beyond their specific technical field. He must also allow every individual to express their own talent in the best way and maintain strong coordination between the various departments.

What is needed to have a brilliant career within the Ferrari F1 Team?
MM: There is a formula for success in every business, not only in Ferrari, and it’s this: work harder than your colleagues!!

What do you expect from Spa-Francorchamps to the end of the championship? What do you think of Fernando Alonso?
MM: At Spa and Monza I expect very difficult races, where the hierarchy among the teams and the advantage of our our rivals’ cars’ will be more obvious. They will be tricky races but we will go into them with the total commitment, adopting aggressive strategies and trying to make the most of any opportunities that come our way. As for Fernando Alonso, he is without doubt one of the best drivers in the world.

Fernando Alonso leads Kimi Raikkonen

Fernando Alonso leads Kimi Raikkonen

Can you tell what you appreciate most about your two drivers?
MM: In Fernando I like the passion and the permanent will to win and fight. In Kimi I like his coolness and pure love of driving. Everything aside from driving is perhaps secondary in his life. They clearly have different personalities but with a lot in common.

After teenager MaxVerstappen at Toro Rosso, why not youngsters Raffaele Marciello or Antonio Fuoco in Marussia?
MM: The FDA is a very important strategic part of the development of our team in the future. Clearly in Formula 1 the ages are lowering a lot. Having said that, there are various different systems for scouting out and training new drivers. As for our philosophy we will continue to invest in improving the FDA, which has only been going for four years. Naturally we will also work to find an outlet for our drivers, and this is one of the areas in which we are concentrating our efforts

Will we ever see a B-Team, a bit like Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso, to give a chance to promising youngsters?
MM: It’s a fact that opportunities will be created for the Ferrari Driver Academy (FDA) drivers, as it is tasked with training new talent. One needs to create the possibility to put these youngsters to the test and make them progress, until they are ready for a top team. We are exploring various methods and new solutions to continue to work in this area and currently various possibilities are being discussed. Obviously once you have created these talents, you need opportunities to test out these young drivers, putting them to the test and helping them grow until they are ready for a top team. We are exploring methods and new solutions to continue to work in this field – and there are different possibilities already under discussion.

When you were a teenager did you follow Formula 1? Who was your favourite driver?
MM: Yes, I’ve always followed it. Among my favourite drivers were Ayrton Senna first of all, followed by Gilles Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher.

What is the one thing you would like to have in Maranello which is from the USA?
MM: Starbucks coffee!

What was the thing you found strangest about F1?
MM: The interest in my sunglasses… (GP247-Ferrari)