As the Australian sporting landscape feels the impact of COVID-19’s second coming, the situation with the Supercars championship continues to be a fluid one ahead of the next round in the country’s Top End.
Scuderia Ferrari have restructured their technical department in a bid to return to the top as Formula One’s team to beat.
The Prancing Horse are looking to achieve this through a more “focused and simplified chain of command that provides the heads of each department the necessary powers to achieve their objectives“. Whether this will benefit the team in the short or long term remains to be seen, especially when Formula One’s new regulations take effect for 2022.
The team have established a new performance development department headed up by Enrico Cardile. The 45-year-old joined Maranello in 2005 and was recently promoted to head of aerodynamic and vehicle project manager when Mattia Binotto was made team principal.
Other major personnel remain unchanged at the head of departments. This includes Enrico Gualtieri (power unit), Simone Resta (chassis engineering) and Laurent Mekies (sporting director and trackside activities).
“As hinted at a few days ago, we are making changes to the technical side of the organisation so as to speed up the design and development on the car performance front,” explained Binotto.
Gualtieri has been part of the team since the early 2000s – the glory days. Resta has also been with the outfit on and off since 2001, whereas Mekies recently joined in late 2018 after stints with Toro Rosso and the FIA. That always plays well into the hands of any team, having a member with links to the governing body.
Ferrari have recognised the need for improvement in management structure but have also reinforced trust and confidence in their own farm system. Binotto assured that the company have reaffirmed their faith in their technical talent pool.
Rory Byrne is also currently serving as a mentor to the squad. The now semi-retired South African engineer was instrumental in the team’s success during the Ross Brawn-Michael Schumacher era of the late 1990s and early 2000s. It’s like having Phil Jackson supporting you post-retirement – although that didn’t end well for the New York Knicks.
“We believe Ferrari personnel are of the highest level and we have nothing to envy about our main competitors in this respect, but we had to make a decisive change, raising the bar in terms of the responsibilities of the department heads,” assured Binotto.
“We have said it several times, but it’s worth repeating: we have started to lay the foundations of a process which should lead to a new and enduring winning cycle. It will take some time and we will suffer setbacks like the one we are experiencing right now in terms of results and performance.
“However, we must react to these shortcomings with strength and determination to get back to being at the very top of this sport as soon as possible. This is what we all want and what our fans all over the world expect of us.”
You see, that’s ironically one of the biggest issues with Ferrari. The Los Angeles Lakers of Formula One. The Manchester United of the pinnacle of motorsport. The Leonardo di Caprio of motor racing. Passionate fans, a large market and extreme budgets come with pressure. It only took Leo until 2016 to win his first Oscar, with five previous nominations spanning over two decades. Could you imagine if Ferrari went two decades without a drivers title? Oh wait, they did – Jody Scheckter in 1979 to Michael Schumacher in 2000.
One drop of the wheel and you’re dealing with cantankerous fans, irritable media and turnover as high as the number of countries that gave communism a shot.
Let’s ask the question, though: was Binotto to blame for running an allegedly illegal power unit in past seasons? Binotto was chief technical officer (CTO) from 2016 up until his appointment as team principal in 2019. According to Mercedes’ James Allison, the role of a technical director in Binotto’s position is to ensure the car is “legal, safe, fast and reliable”. Only two of those boxes were ticked in Binotto’s tenure. Remember too the car first showed signs of shady fuel irregularities back in 2018, when Binotto was still CTO.
You might want to blame former team principal Maurizio Arrivabene, but as far as I can recall he led the team into arguably their best success yet in Formula One during the V6 turbo-hybrid era.
But let’s not turn into Williams here – let’s forget the blame culture. Ferrari are looking to a new and brighter future and trust in their own personnel.
Binotto vs Arrivabene. The match is set and it’s billed as ‘Fighting in Ferrari’, where two of the heavyweights square off in battle for the crown of better team principal. The late Sergio Marchionne would’ve played the perfect Don King, Arrivabene as Vito Corleone and Binotto stars as Harry Potter. This is the last straw, one last fighting chance for Binotto to prove his worth as a better team principal than a man who arrived so well.
If this doesn’t work, the team needs to step away from relying on history, reputation and passion to win. They need to think about modern-day management. The budget cap, for instance, will be one of the most dramatically enforced rules of all time. Break the rules this time and you could face disqualification from multiple championships and your entry could even be revoked. It’s like taking a front wing to the face.
If Ferrari can master a more efficient management structure to take advantage of the new budget cap, I’m investing stock in the Prancing Horse.
I’ll speak to you again when I’m filthy rich in 2025.