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Sergio Marchionne gets realistic and admits 2016 F1 season a failure for Ferrari

Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne has made a dramatic intervention during the Italian Grand Prix weekend at Monza, calling the 2016 season a fail...

Sergio Marchionne gets realistic and admits 2016 F1 season a failure for Ferrari
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Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne has made a dramatic intervention during the Italian Grand Prix weekend at Monza, calling the 2016 season a failure and accepting that as targets will not be met, the focus should shift to 2017.

This marks a change of message and tone for Marchionne, who took over Ferrari two years ago on a platform of turning around the F1 team, which he said had fallen behind under former chairman Luca di Montezemolo.

Montezemolo used to love creating moments of theatre at Monza, sweeping in to the paddock in blazer and open collared shirt and holding forth to the media, with encouraging words for his team.

Monza crowd

Marchionne's message is far more downbeat today, but more realistic, given that Ferrari has been overhauled by Red Bull and risks becoming the third force in F1.

Only a few weeks ago he was calling for the team to meet the goals he had set of winning races in 2016. We posted that this could carry some risks for the team, as their rivals are now fully committed to the cars being built to the new 2017 regulations. Ferrari could ill afford to leave anything on the table next season by trying to salvage pride this season.

"I think we failed the targets, I don’t think there’s a doubt in my mind," Marchionne said on Saturday lunchtime in the Monza paddock.

Sebastian Vettel

"It’s no use putting sweeteners on the stuff, the car isn’t there and I don’t think we developed it. I think we started well in Australia, I think that we failed in developing the car during the season which is due to a variety of reasons.

"I feel quite comfortable that this team are quite capable of turning the fate of the 'scuderia' around. Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of season left.

"Let them finish the season, I think we’ll do the best we can for the rest of ’16 and the fight starts in 2017 with the first race."

James Allison Maurizio Arrivabene

Inevitably the focus fell on James Allison, (above left) the former technical chief, who left his post last month after falling out with Marchionne. Sources close to the matter say that Marchionne wanted a new structure, whereby Allison supervised with a head of chassis and a head of power train responsible for those departments. Allison refused, saying that the structure he had in place was the right one.

A deadline was imposed to assess results improving and when the deadline came without improved results, Allison was out.

He is now in high demand with Renault and Williams at the front of the queue to get his services.

Marchionne dealt with this one 'head on': "We keep on focusing on a single individual as being the answer to all these problems," he said. "James was a great technician and I think he had the variety of skills that certainly were relevant for parts of the car.

James Allison

"He was not a power unit guy and never had been. Mattia is, and I think he’s done a tremendous job in terms of bringing the power unit from where it was at the end of ‘14 to where we are today.

"I think we have huge talent inside the structure today. Other than particular plug-ins of people, I would not be looking for the great hero to come in and turn this thing around. The skill level inside the scuderia is huge, let them work."

Ferrari now has a structure which is more corporate, according to their media department, a model which works well at Proctor and Gamble, according to a spokesman. It revolves around supervisors and a flatter structure.

However the team is unwilling to share any details of who occupies which roles and who is in charge of chassis and power train, beneath Mattia Binotto the new chief technical officer. The 2017 car is however being designed by Simone Resta, the chief designer on the 2016 car.

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