Scuderia Ferrari has gone through Team Principals more frequently than some of us have had hot dinners: today, the team announced that Marco Mattiacci has been sacked and will be replaced by Maurizio Arrivabene.
A number of major outlets, including RichardsF1.com, aired these rumours during last weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which Ferrari rejected as “historic and unfounded”. The Italian team made similar claims in the 48 hours leading up to the sudden departure of Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, who quit following September’s Italian Grand Prix.
The incoming Arrivabene is a Marlboro man, and in his 15-year role with Philip Morris he has served as the paymaster of Maranello by negotiating the placement of Ferrari’s additional sponsors on its cars. The Italian has also served on the F1 Commission since 2010, representing the interests of all Formula 1 sponsors.
It’s also worth noting that Ferrari’s current ‘silent’ contract with Philip Morris was set to expire at the end of next season. Arrivabene was rumoured to be set to retire from his role with PMI, but perhaps in the personnel shuffling Ferrari has managed to secure both a new leader and increased commercial involvement from the global cigarette brand.
“We decided to appoint Maurizio Arrivabene because, at this historic moment in time for the Scuderia and for Formula 1, we need a person with a thorough understanding not just of Ferrari but also of the governance mechanisms and requirements of the sport,” Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne said today.
“Maurizio has a unique wealth of knowledge: he has been extremely close to the Scuderia for years and, as a member of the F1 Commission, is also keenly aware of the challenges we are facing.
“He has been a constant source of innovative ideas focused on revitalisation of Formula 1. His managerial experience on a highly complex and closely regulated market is also of great importance, and will help him manage and motivate the team.
“I am delighted to have been able to secure his leadership for our racing activities.”
Mattiacci’s appointment at Ferrari just eight months – as a replacement for the suddenly departed Stefano Domenicali – was a huge surprise. His complete lack of experience in motorsport made it feel very much like an interim appointment until a better solution could be found, while Mattiacci was expected to be promoted to the role of Ferrari’s global head of its car sales empire.
Mattiacci didn’t seem to slot in well, and during his brief time at the helm, Ferrari’s performances went backwards rather than forwards, culminating in the mutual decision between team and driver to allow Fernando Alonso to exit his contract with the team with two years to go on his current term. At least Mattiacci managed to oversee the coup signing of Sebastian Vettel in Alonso’s place, but what will be remembered more was how appallingly he handled Ferrari’s star driver on his way out the door.
Perhaps his complete sacking is not a surprise after all. Mattiacci might pop up at either McLaren or Aston Martin’s road car arms in the near future; rumour has it that he had previously interviewed for possible job openings…
Image via EuroSport