Giovanni Malago says it is unlikely Ferrari will recover from its competitive slump within the 2014 season.
The Italian olympic chief’s name is now well-known in the F1 paddock, after Ferrari this week quoted him as saying he dislikes the sport’s ‘new’ face. “I hope the people who run the sport look again at the rules because the way formula one is now, it has much less appeal,” he had said in the quotes faithfully reproduced on Ferrari’s official website.
Now, Malago has admitted he doubts Ferrari can emerge from its competitive slump within the 2014 season, despite Marco Mattiacci having been drafted in with Fiat’s backing to replace boss Stefano Domenicali. “I think that in formula one, as well as in (grand prix) motorcycles, unlike many other sports, it is difficult to overturn your results in the same season,” he is quoted by Tuttosport. “In football,” Malago explained, “you can improve and aim to win the championship, but this hardly ever happens in formula one.”
But Steve Robertson, the manager of Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, does not agree. He said the “new generation” of V6-powered cars are only “at the beginning of their life cycle”. “Every team is aware of the massive improvements they can make to their cars,” Robertson told Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper. “I do not think any team will begin already to focus on their car for next year, at least in the same way as they might have done in the past,” he insisted. Ferrari-powered Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez, however, agrees with Malago that the Maranello marque will struggle to catch up in 2014. “All the teams with Ferrari engines know they are working hard, making changes, but so far it’s not enough,” the Mexican is quoted by Spain’s El Confidencial newspaper. “It will not be an easy year for Fernando (Alonso).”
That fact is evident on Alonso’s face in the Shanghai paddock. The dark glasses-wearing Mattiacci finally made his first appearance in a Ferrari uniform on Friday, but several metres separated him from the team’s Spanish driver as they walked the length of the Shanghai paddock together. Earlier, Alonso’s first statements about his new boss were far from glowing. On Thursday, he said he wasn’t even sure Mattiacci was making the trip to China, while revealing he has been talking with the departed Domenicali “all the week long”. And when asked about Mattiacci’s inexperience, Alonso answered: “It’s too early to say if it will be a very good thing or very bad. “I don’t really have much to say. I drive the car,” he later added.