November 24, 2014

Ferrari's epic shakeup: Power Politics or Family Feud?

"It's 30 minutes away, I'll be there in 10". Maurizio Arrivabene. Sutton/via Autosprint

The arrival of the Maurizio Arrivabene to lead the Gestione Sportiva in place of Marco Mattiacci is probably best seen with an eye towards F1 power politics.

When Luca di Montezemolo was "retired "many questioned if Ferrari had lost what was left of its political power within the sport.   Mattiacci was an outsider to the sport and 2014 drove home how the sport had bent too far in the way, if not to accommodate Mercedes, at least to make it so Ferrari and Renault could be in a position where they could expect to be competitive in the short term.    That di Montezemolo allowed Ferrari to be be in that position was seen as his graves fault.

Arrivabene is an insider, a former VP for Global Communications at Phillip Morris, a company on whose board of directors Sergio Marchionne sits.  He was in charge of relations between Marlboro and Ferrari for years.    He is, presumably,  well versed in high stakes negotiations and his appointment could be the signal to Bernie and the boys at FIA that Ferrari is willing to not just change its internal structure radically but its relations with the governing body.    Old tactics from Maranello, yes, but from behind his mild mannered appearance Mr. Marchionne has shown he has little fear and regard for the current status quo.   He fired Di Montezemolo and Alonso in the blink of an eye, there is a definite sense he'll think nothing of going racing somewhere else if that's what it takes.

Mattiacci was dismissed bluntly:
“We would also like to thank Marco Mattiacci for his service to Ferrari in the last 15 years and we wish him well in his future endeavours”
That does not sound like Marco will be heading back to what must have been a very pleasant job as head of Ferrari USA.

One of the final items in the epic Ferrari purge of 2014 is aerodynamicist Nicholas Tombaziz.  Frankly, given the performance of recent Ferraris, he would have been our first choice, more so if he was responsible for the power unit compromise choices which so hobbled the F14T and potentially, future Ferraris to come.   The 2015 car is apparently an even worse disaster than this year's, further proof this move will come too late and  Tifosis have to resign themselves to a transitional year.   Alonso was likely fully aware and this is likely the main reason he asked to go.  At the same time, some very heavy guarantees must have been made to Vettel.

If Ferrari's management shakeup  is backed by commitment to the required investment, it will be good news for the team. Signs look promising.

Andrea Agnelli
In the background there is also the involvement of Andrea Agnelli, the 38 year old son of Umberto Agnelli, Gianni's brother.  
Gianni Agnelli had designated Andrea's older step brother Giovanni as his successor.  Giovanni tragically died of cancer at 33 in the late 90s and the heir designate became Andrea's cousin John Elkann.  
Andrea Agnelli, became president of Juventus, the family owned football club.  Before that he worked some times at  Phillip Morris, brought in by, you guessed it, Maurizio Arrivabene.

Agnelli carries the  family name, he has been in the background to his cousins just as his father had been in the background with Gianni.     Ferrari is now in Marchiones's hands but Marchionne will not be there forever.

Feuds happen in the best of families?

Ferrari Press statement:

Maranello (Italy) 24 November 2014 – Ferrari is pleased to announce the appointment of Maurizio Arrivabene as Managing Director of Gestione Sportiva and as Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari, replacing Marco Mattiacci.

Mr Arrivabene comes to Ferrari from Philip Morris, which he joined in 1997 after a 20 years career in marketing and promotions in Italy and abroad. Maurizio Arrivabene has held a variety of posts in Philip Morris, leading up to his appointment in 2007 as Vice President of Marlboro Global Communication & Promotions for Philip Morris International and, in 2011, as Vice President Consumer Channel Strategy and Event Marketing. He has been an independent member of the board of Juventus FC since 2012 also. From 2011 to 2012 he has been a member of the Sport Business Academy (SDA Bocconi School of Management and RCS Sport), in the Advisory Team Program.

Throughout his time with Philip Morris, Maurizio Arrivabene has been closely involved in the partnership with Ferrari both in Maranello and on the world’s racing circuits. He has also represented all Formula One sponsors on the F1 Commission since 2010.
“We decided to appoint Maurizio Arrivabene because, at this historic moment in time for the Scuderia and for Formula 1, we need a person with a thorough understanding not just of Ferrari but also of the governance mechanisms and requirements of the sport,” commented Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne. “Maurizio has a unique wealth of knowledge: he has been extremely close to the Scuderia for years and, as a member of the F1 Commission, is also keenly aware of the challenges we are facing. He has been a constant source of innovative ideas focused on revitalisation of Formula One. His managerial experience on a highly complex and closely regulated market is also of great importance, and will help him manage and motivate the team. I am delighted to have been able to secure his leadership for our racing activities”.
“We would also like to thank Marco Mattiacci for his service to Ferrari in the last 15 years and we wish him well in his future endeavours” concluded Mr Marchionne.


  1. Strategic changes must take precedence over continuity when the old guard has proven a losing record.
    I hope the new big picture guy will facilitate a new team attitude that will provide fertile development potential for Vettel.
    Ferrari is poised to grow into a winning team after Fernando's disappointing reign.

  2. from what i read from the reports of bbc n adam cooper, pierro ferrari and FIAT family did not like his handling of alonso and losing him. And yes tombazis should be fired as well both aldo costa and luca maroni said same thing, tombazis is the problem.

  3. Very quick to forget 2012 when he took that dogshit car and was a DNF away from being Champion against the might Adrian Newey ...

  4. You agree with Joe again!

  5. And 'Nando's inability to score more points in Brazil 2010 left Seb champion.

  6. Their whole windtunnel fiasco set Ferrari back big time.

  7. I've never read more ignorant bullshit as in the comments to that site... the very reason Axis has to balance some of the British insanity out there :)

  8. Or Ferrari's strategy miscalls that put him behind Petrov in pre DRS times?

  9. :)
    I used to Tifosi but friends who described the scuderia like the Yankees began my drift away.
    It was Massa's best year that ruined it for me. They put a car that failed under him, then sent him back to pitlane with the fuel hose firmly in place costing him points that would have won him the championship by a comfortable margin.
    Fernando's move there was fitting but the scuderia never was the same, especially after Felipe took that spring to his face.
    Then there was a German kid that had a great attitude and I went all in as a Vettel fan and Ferrari was a has been.
    Here's to Seb bringing championship form back. I think I can dig out my old Ferrari hat after all.


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