Posts filed under ‘Ferrari’

Todt on his Todd at Ferrari

In a somewhat surprising move, yesterday Ferrari announced that Jean Todt, Team Principal, was kicked upstairs (probably to become CEO) and that Stefano Domenicali would replace the Frenchman as Ferrari boss.

That this move was made on the same day that Honda announced the capture of former Ferrari Technical Director, Ross Brawn, wasn’t coincidence. It is no secret that Brawn wanted to return to F1 as a Team Principal and that Ferrari was his first choice. Unless Ferrari badly misplayed their hand something has gone tragically wrong. Brawn is acknowledged as the smartest brain in the paddock and is a valuable asset to any team.

So why did he shun Ferrari (if he did) and move to Honda?

The smart money is that Ferrari simply didn’t want him so any option of a return to Maranello was merely an illusion. After Ferrari’s spectacular and unexpectedly successful season the Scuderia decided that after a decade of Todt and Brawn it was time for some new blood. This is in sharp contrast to the deal on the table at the start of the year where it was agreed that Todt would take on some luminary position within the Ferrari hierarchy and would be replaced as Principal by Brawn.

However, over the course of the 2007 season it became apparent that relations between the two became frosty. If Todt’s appointment as CEO is confirmed then it is likely he will still exert a lot of control over the team and the Team Principal will become a hatchet man. Brawn refused to work under those conditions.

If that is true then good for Brawn. Good for F1 too. There is little question of how important Brawn was to Ferrari but remember the organisation had the deepest pockets in the sport. Honda is an altogether different challenge, and if Brawn can bring in silverware then he’ll be rightly lauded as one of the finest hands ever to grace the F1 Pitlane.

And Ferrari? Expect Todt to play a role. It is business as usual at Maranello.


November 13, 2007 at 4:47 am Leave a comment

Honda appoint Ross Brawn as Team Principal

The Daily Telegraph is this morning reporting that Ross Brawn will shortly be announced as Honda’s new Team Principal.

Brawn’s future has been the subject of much speculation since he left Ferrari last year. Although he hasn’t kept his desire to run an F1 team secret the speculation up to now has been that he’d replace Jean Todt as head of the Scuderia. However, Ferrari’s remarkable double win this year, their first for three years, and Todt’s determination to continue meant that the Ferrari bosses were unable to make the switch they wanted to.

What does it mean for Honda?

Brawn’s record on the track is enviable. At Ferrari he orchestrated an era of dominance by Michael Scuhmacher never before seen in the sport. At Honda expect him to have complete control of both technical and strategic sides of the team — there is no way he’d have jumped on board a sunken ship without that kind of guarantee. Also expect Honda to have pledged significant resources to providing Brawn with a car that can win. It may be too late for Brawn to influence the 2008 car by 2010, if Brawn has anything to do with it, the Japanese-outfit should be back at the top-end of the grid.

For the Scuderia the outlook is more uncertain. There is no doubt they hankered over the return of Brawn to skipper the team into the early part of next decade. The dalliance my not be over yet. If Honda fail to give Brawn the control he craves and demands, and success isn’t forthcoming he may be asked to take over the reigns at Ferrari. And that will be a terribly hard offer to refuse.

November 12, 2007 at 4:01 am Leave a comment

2007 Review: Ferrari

This is the second in F1-Pitlane’s multi-part season review of each constructor. After a look at the shenanigans over at McLaren yesterday we turn our attention to Ferrari, who cantered off with the constructor’s and driver’s championship

The twilight years of the Michael Schumacher era was barren for Ferrari as a resurgent Renault and a certain young Spaniard conquered all before them. After the departure of Ross Brawn, 2007 was expected to be another difficult year as the Scuderia regrouped around Kimi Rainkonnen and Felipe Massa.

The car

The omens were bright after the first race of the season in Australia where Raikonnen set a marker for the rest of the campaign convincingly outpacing the two McLarens. However, the advantage was to be short lived as McLaren hit pack in the next two grand prix.

The design philosophies between the two teams were vastly different. Ferrari opted to run a longer, heavier car ostensibly to generate better floor effect aerodynamics and generate more mechanical grip. This was evident at Melbourne as the team were accused of running a flexible floor. In their never ending wisdom the FIA put in place more stringent requirements on floor testing (effectively ruling Ferrari’s design illegal) but elected not to punish the Maranello outfit.

Where as the MP4-22 excelled in the slow turn, where the F2007 had more pace was in the high-speed corners, so circuits like Silverstone quickly became Ferrari tracks. One area where the team let themselves down in 2007 was the reliability stakes. At the turn of the century Ferrari were more than bullet-proof but the gremlins struck more than once in 2007. Coupled with a couple of basic strategic errors (failing to fuel Massa’s car properly in one quali session) and the impression was that was missing Brawn.

At the end of the season it was clear that McLaren and Ferrari were on a par with each other, which made for some phenomenal motor racing.

The organisation

With the departure of Ross Brawn there was always likely to be some afters organisationally. No-one would dare dream that it would involve the leaking of state secrets to arch-rivals McLaren by Nigel Stepney after he failed to secure a post-Brawn promotion.

Many feel that Ferrari were a little fortunate to escape punishment from the sordid saga as allegations were made that they were in possession of classified McLaren information. The FIA oddly choose not to investigate.

Another dynamic at work was the loosening of Jean Todt’s grip on the team. Rumours abounded the paddock most of the season that Ross Brawn would step into top-job at the season’s end. That Todt pulled two championships out of his hat may have saved his job but expect the grumblings to continue into 2008 if he stays in position.

The Drivers

Compared to McLaren, Ferrari’s lineup of Massa and Raikonnen were a paragon of absolute harmony. Raikonnen must take most of the credit. He struggled early on to adapt to what was essentially Schumacher’s car and was regularly outpaced by his team mate. Rather than grumble at his misfortune he decided to stick his head down and do his job (take note Fernando) and was duly rewarded with an astonishing championship and six race wins.

Felipe Massa was the perfect foil and also won his fare share of races. He knows he is batting slightly above his weight driving for the Scuderia although as the victories rolled in his confidence leapt. He was rewarded with a new contract at the end of the season but that was partly to ward off speculation that Alonso would join the team. Massa is managed by Jean Todt’s son, Nicolas, so nepotism was also reported to be at work.

The outlook

The future for the Scuderia is very bright. Raikonnen will enter 2008 as clear favorite for the title and if the McLaren design is hamstrung by the FIA for copyright infringement it could be one way traffic.

November 6, 2007 at 5:47 am 1 comment

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