2016 FORMULA 1 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
behind at the start of testing. But history
shows that teams who start ahead more
often than not stay there. Sixty percent
of F1 Constructors’ Championships have
been won by the team winning the
opening race, a rate that’s even higher
if you look only at more recent years.
So Ferrari will go into the season as
second favorite. It was always going to,
unless it hit the ground running so fast
at the start of testing that Mercedes
couldn’t keep up – something that was
never likely to happen. As everybody
involved likes to say, it won’t really be clear
until the Australian Grand Prix, March
20th. But whether Ferrari is ahead of
Mercedes or behind, it will be fascinating
to see how the Prancing Horse responds.
Ferrari is now a public company with
high expectations. In an interview with
Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport
recently, Marchionne described the
possibility of going a decade without
winning a title as a tragedy.
“If we were going to run together
victories in Formula 1, it would improve our
brand,” he said. “I was speaking with one of
our dealerships and agreed the results of
2015 helped bring back credibility to the
Even so, Ferrari has a habit on turning in
on itself when things go wrong on track,
so whether its in a title fight it’s expected
to win, or struggling, there will be real
pressure on those at Maranello.
But for now, all is positive. The technical
regime under the highly-rated Allison (who
only joined late in 2013) has bedded in,
the engine department is making
progress, and the management structure
gives the impression of more stability than
there was in the later days under previous
chairman Luca di Montezemolo.
But it’s not just Ferrari that needs to
take on Mercedes; the whole of F1 needs
to step it up. Progress has been made,
but is it enough? The smart money
remains on the cars in the silver corner,
but the red machines might just be able
to put up a good fight and go into the
season with a puncher’s chance.
Since taking over as Ferrari chairman
in October 2014, Sergio Marchionne
has demonstrated that he shares
predecessor Luca di Montezemolo’s
penchant for a headline-grabbing quote.
The CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
stated early on that “the sporting arm
continues to be an essential element for
Ferrari,” yet a little more than a year
later spoke of Formula 1 needing Ferrari
more than Ferrari needs Formula 1.
“Ferrari is likely to find other ways
to provide its ability to win and to race,
this is so easy,” he said when asked
about what Ferrari would be without
F1. “That would be a great pity; nobody
would be interested in Formula 1
without Ferrari, not even Mercedes.”
Then there’s Alfa Romeo.
Marchionne has referred to the
possibility of the FCA-owned brand
returning to F1, perhaps even as a rival
to Ferrari. The Alfa logo is already on
the Ferrari, but Marchionne suggested
in February that a works team, or
engine operation, was on the cards.
While it would fit with the desire to
build the brand, especially given its
sporting credentials, exactly where the
finance would come from makes it a
long shot. It could happen, but it’s
more likely Marchionne is doing his
best to talk up a marque that needs a
shot in the arm. After all, you don’t
climb to such a lofty position without
serious political skills. Likewise the
comments about F1. He knows how to
play the game, so don’t expect Ferrari
to quit the sport any time soon…
Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne
(ABOVE) is never more than three feet
away from a headline-grabbing quote...
STIRRING THINGS UP...
brand. If we were to fail to win a title over
10 years, it would be a tragedy.”
Pressure indeed. And the point about
2015 being just a step again makes it
very clear that Ferrari cannot be satisfied
with just a few wins. But while its last
Drivers’ Championship was won by Kimi
Raikkonen in 2007, it did win the
constructors’ crown in ’08 – so a failure
this year would only be an eighth blank.
“2015 helped bring back
credibility to the brand. If
we fail to win a title over 10
years, it would be a tragedy”
After a catastrophic
– by its standards –
Ferrari returned to
the top of the podium
last year (ABOVE).
All efforts now are
focused on more of
the same (LEFT).