The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix paddock was abuzz with speculation surrounding the future of the Ferrari team’s leadership, with Germany’s Sport Bild citing ‘well informed sources’ who claim that team principal Marco Mattiacci (pictured above) could be replaced in a few weeks’ time.
The Roman has been in charge of the team since April, moving across from heading Ferrari’s North America sales arm following the sudden resignation of team principal Stefano Domenicali.
During Mattiacci’s brief tenure, there has been plenty of change throughout the Ferrari structure, not least of which has been the departure of Ferrari chief Luca di Montezemolo, whose position has been absorbed by FIAT chief Sergio Marchionne, which coincided with the announcement that Ferrari was to be publicly listed on the stock exchange.
Sport Bild claims that Mattiacci will be replaced by Maurizio Arrivabene, the Vice-President of Global Communications at Philip Morris International since 2007. Arrivabene has been part of the Philip Morris stable since 1997, and later became the chief decision-maker for Ferrari’s chief (but invisible) primary sponsor. He was later appointed to the F1 Commission in 2010 (representing the interests of Formula 1 sponsors) and also serves on the board of the FIAT-owned Juventus football club.
Meanwhile the SKY F1 crew, spearheaded by the rarely accurate pit lane reporter Ted Kravtiz, was airing its own theory that former Ferrari technical director and Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn was in negotiations to return to the team in Mattiacci’s place. Brawn was quick to reject the rumours, going so far as to message SKY F1 commentator Martin Brundle during the qualifying broadcast to flatly deny the story.
Ferrari itself responded to the Arrivabene story as “an historic and unfounded rumour”. In any case, the story has a destabilising effect on the squad when it can least afford it while it readies itself for a stock market flotation to help wipe out the significant debts incurred when FIAT purchased the Chrysler automotive group.
Image via XPB Images