Sebastian Vettel questions Ferrari president’s expectations


Everything is now awesome in Ferrari-land since the horrible Spanish Matador was banished from the ring and the new benevolent dictator Sergio Marchionne and his deputy grasped the red reins of power. Some say, if you listen carefully early in a Maranello morning, you will hear strains of the Mark Mothersbaugh version of the Lego Movie anthem being heartily sung by the Ferrari operatives before they begin their morning’s work.

Unlike within the Mercedes F1 team, the Scuderia driver pairing is doing more than getting on just fine; Kimi loves Seb and Seb adores Kimi and the joie de vivre that is now at the heart of Ferrari forms the core message of every press release approved by HQ.

Yet beneath this veritable fount of bonhomie the reality of being obliterated on track for two consecutive seasons by their German racing rivals is never far from the mind of each and every Ferrari minion. As in the movies, behind the scenes in Ferrari-world is a big bad boss – and Sergio Marchionne is beginning to wield the whip.

Given the vagaries of the Italian-English translations offered for the Ferrari president’s Christmas message, we can’t be sure of the exact level of expectation Sergio is creating, though the broad gist is not in doubt. Here at TJ13 we translated Ferrari’s big boss claims made in La Gazzetta as, “We will already be the team to beat in Australia”. A more conservative conversion had Marchionne demanding, “it is important to win the first race of the season in Australia.”

Comme ci, comme ça – as they say in France. What is crystal clear, is that Ferrari’s president demands in 2016 far more from his Maranello mob than they have delivered in recent times. Marchionne has already dismissed excuses which suggests the Scuderia is suffering from lack of investment: “We have made all the necessary investments in order to bring the title back to Maranello,” he insisted in a speech at the Christmas factory shindig.

Sergio also refuted in advance claims that time has been too short: “Maurizio [Arrivabene] will tell you we delayed some things to allow for the 2015 car to be finished,” said Marchionne. “Hopefully he will not bitch about this. We pushed back the start of some of the work on the chassis for the ’16 cars, it was delayed a little. But we still have had adequate time and adequate financial resources to do the right thing given the rules”.

So the pressure is on for F1’s race weekend 1 in Australia; and in less than 8 weeks we will know how awesome everything at Ferrari really is. During the wet tyre test this week at Paul Ricard, Sebastian Vettel revealed to some extent the way the Maranello minions are feeling. “It’s natural that we all want to win – the team is quite big, there’s a lot of people and if you ask everyone, I think [they all agree] our target is to win.”

Vettel believes Ferrari has closed the gap to Mercedes over the winter but questions whether the target set by Marchionne – of a win in Australia – is realistic. “But we know it’s very ambitious, we know that the gap has been quite big last year. I think we did a good job over the season to come closer. This year we have some changes and we will have to see – obviously the testing is crucial to start on the right foot and then we go from there.

“But Australia is one race from 21. If you win there, it’s great, if not – you try to finish as close as possible to the top step and collect as many points. And after that it’s a long year.”

This is not quite doing an Alain Prost – who called his expensive handmade Ferrari racing machine ‘a truck’ and suffered the consequences. In fact Vettel’s loyalty to his team principal Maurizio Arrivabene is most admirable.

However, it may be better for young Seb to keep his neck away from the chopping block and allow others to suffer the consequences of not building a Ferrari racing car capable of beating the Mercedes. After all, Sergio Marchionne is considered a bright guy and could always choose to free up another several tens of millions by following the Mateschitz model of hiring young talent at a fraction of the cost of a world champion or two.

17 responses to “Sebastian Vettel questions Ferrari president’s expectations

  1. This article has a little anti-Ferrari tone to it, which I like, as I am a Driver fan as apposed to a Team Fan. I am sure that if the same questions were posed to Kimi, even after the pre-season testing, he would respond with a resounding, ling-winded “We’ll see.”

    • This site is pretty much anti every team, just look at some of the ramblings from the judge about RBR and Merc too.

      • Because the site is more pro F1 than pro any team or driver. They’ve all been given the same amount of coverage and scrutiny, well except for…… Sorry, strayed a bit, but I hope you got my point.

        The judge can be a (insert your choice of word), but I believe he’s not biased in how he treats everyone.

  2. Have to disagree with your assessment that Seb is questioning expectations.
    We all want to win, but we know it’s very ambitious. This hardly seems to be an outright questioning of goals

    • Perhaps you mistook the author’s over-all gist of the article. I did not perceive any slight towards Seb nor Seb’s goals. nor any misquotes. After the rain tire test, Seb did say that an Australian win was ambitious but that can not determine the season. (Paraphrasing).

  3. “This is not quite doing an Alain Prost – who called his expensive hand made Ferrari racing machine ‘a truck’ and suffered the consequences”

    Actually what Prost said was that the reason he lost 2 seconds a lap from a certain lap onwards, was that a damper broke and the car handled like a truck from them on. Common misconception

  4. “This is not quite doing an Alain Prost – who called his expensive hand made Ferrari racing machine ‘a truck’ and suffered the consequences.”

    This is a common misconception. What Prost actually said was that after breaking a damper the car started handling like a truck and lost 2 seconds a lap, losing him a podium.

    (this may be a repeat post, if so delete. the browser threw an error the first time I posted this)

    • Thanks, I also questioned that and I remember watching that race then reading his comments later on that week. Funny how facts get jumbled up with time. Thanks for jogging a good race off the back burner.

      • Wow that’s interesting…I was too young to remember the details and the comments i’d heard over time led me to believe prost had said the car generally handled like a truck that year, and that was why he was fired… So why exactly was he fired?

  5. I hope that Ferrari are beaten my Mercedes again because they have effectively circumvented the rules by using the Haas Team to test new parts and learn lots from the transfer and retransfer of staff.

  6. Understand the author’s point, but the comment should be looked at from the point of view of Sebastian as one of the team leaders defending their ongoing efforts. It is not defiance; it is leadership.

  7. With the many reports of Fiat Chrysler being on the skids and leaking Euros, Marchionne turned to using the Ferrari brand to prop up the company’s facade. Behind the veil, though, money must be tight at Scuderia. If Marchionne is spending as he needs for his F1 team it is done at the great expense of the primary brand. And if that is the case – an illogical premise on its face – The FCAGroup Board of Directors would have, some months ago, set Marchionne back on the right rail.

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