July 19, 2016

Ferrari crisis: James Allison to leave the Scuderia

Something was in the air after the British GP disaster and a first half of the season devoid of victories,  with the Scuderia slipping further away from Mercedes and behind a resurgent  Red Bull.

The axe,  according to today's Gazzetta dello Sport, will fall on James Allison,  the ex Ferrari, ex Lotus  Technical Director who was in charge of Maranello's much touted comeback.      Sergio Marchionne, incredibly, has asked to be informed of every technical and strategic decision of the team so he may intervene personally (what could possibly got wrong?).

Allison's family was hit by terrible tragedy at the beginning of the season, when his wife suddenly died of meningitis.  Relations between the Englishman and Ferrari's bosses were, according to the Gazzetta article, already strained because of differing views on methodology along with a lack of results but his need to spend more time away from the factory to care for his young children, made it very difficult to proceed with technical development on the car.

To further complicate things, Allison was perhaps the last major management figure in the team still associated with the Montezemolo tenure, having been picked originally by Stefano Domenicali and later Marco Mattiacci.

Allison, very understandably has been trying to get back to working in the UK and apparently has been courted by Renault.

This effectively leaves Ferrari without a technical head.   His successor could be Simone Resta, the designer of the current car, but given the SF16's lack of pace, it does not bode well.

Other names mentioned as replacements are James Key from Toro Rosso,  but he lives in the UK and even if he decided to move, would face a long "gardening leave"  before being able to do anything.  

You can forget Ross Brawn who, by all accounts, is both still happy fishing and not a sure thing having missed many years in which F1 has changed radically.

While the Scuderia has changed and strengthened it's technical structure since the 2014 revolution, poaching technical talent from Red Bull and Mercedes,  they have not found a leader,  their new Brawn, or Newey or Paddy Lowe.

Ironically,  the previous management at Maranello had let Aldo Costa go after 2010.  The ex Ferrari engineer went on to design the last three Championship winning Mercedes'.

The only thing Ferrari is sure of at this point is its drivers, Vettel and the newly confirmed Raikkonen.  

It's a big deal for Vettel,  he  certainly had certain expectations when he joined Ferrari and, with the lead time of cars spanning at least a season, having no clear direction, there  might be little to keep him in red after his contract runs out at the end of 2017.

Which would leave Ferrari with not very much at all,  with "a handful of flies" as the say in Italy.

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