Interview: Marchionne targeting big things for Ferrari in 2016

The 63-year-old credited Maurizio Arrivabene’s arrival as a reason why the Scuderia’s fortunes have improved in such a short period of time. Interview by Pino Allievi of La Gazzetta dello Sport

Sergio Marchionne Ferrari

After widespread changes over the past 16 months since taking over the team, Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne is confident the Italian outfit are ready to end their championship drought.

The Scuderia last won the drivers’ championship back in 2007, when Kimi Raikkonen won the last race of the season in Brazil to edge past McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton to secure his only title.

However since then Ferrari have struggled to keep up with Mercedes, but after winning three races last season, Marchionne is targeting better results in 2016 with the campaign set to begin on March 20 in Australia.

Ferrari Formula One driver Vettel of Germany drives during the third practice session of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix

Ferrari have gone in a new direction in every regard, especially in Formula 1.

“The team is very different from when I arrived in 2004, that’s for sure.”

Third place in the championship, three victories in 2015. Did the rebirth come as a result of heavy investment?

“Yes, but it was like that in the past as well. We have continued to make investments that are in line with what we’ve always done.”

It was clear Ferrari was behind in terms of development, especially when it came to the electric side of things.

“Well in 2015 we spent less than in the past, and by that I mean with respect to 2014.”

How did that happen?

“We changed what we were investing in, developing what was needed and cutting down on the other things. We can still improve, but we can’t quite say that the costs of Formula 1 are acceptable, as they are still huge.”

Do you think that a championship win will have an impact on the price of shares?

“If we were to string together victories in F1 then it would improve our brand. I was speaking with one of our car dealerships and we agreed that the results of 2015 helped bring back credibility to the brand. If we were to somehow fail to win a title over a 10-year span it would be a tragedy.”

Sergio Marchionne Ferrari

What has been the most difficult moment of your 16 months with Ferrari?

“The first month. When I went to see where we stood in the overall scheme of F1 I realised that we weren’t competitive.”

Which move restored your confidence?

“When we cleared our ranks. We won because we brought focus back to the team and began to do the things that are really important. Maurizio Arrivabene’s arrival helped a lot.”

Arrivabene wasn’t well known when he was signed. What are his good and bad attributes?

“If he has a defect it isn’t on the technical side of things. He is great at creating a team atmosphere. He knows how to make everyone work together.”

How come Mercedes have been able to create such a gap over the other team?

“That’s because as soon as the rules were implemented they understood them immediately, while we took our time. But I don’t want to criticise the past. From what I saw we didn’t have the engine to win and the power unit wasn’t good enough.”

Mercedes Ferrari

When you mentioned that Alfa Romeo could return to the track before Christmas it sent everyone into a frenzy.

“What frenzy. In order to restore their name they must consider returning to Formula 1. They would probably work with Ferrari.”

Who would make the chassis for Alfa Romeo? Ferrari?

“No, Alfa Romeo are capable of making their own chassis, just like they are capable of making their own engine.”

Is there any chance Alfa Romeo will race at Le Mans?

“I would rather see them in F1.”

Sergio Marchionne - Ferrari

It’s hard to imagine a Ferrari engine in an Alfa Romeo car.

“However people struggled to imagine Red Bull working with Ferrari! I say that because people criticise me for not giving them an engine. I agree with people that say that Red Bull were too tough on their engine suppliers, but in the end this sport must continue. The important things is to have other large manufacturers enter the sport.”

A lot of them don’t take part in the sport because the technology is too advanced and they don’t want to look bad compared to Mercedes and Ferrari.

“Audi could have joined as they were apparently ready to do so, but then the Volkswagen situation blew up.”

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