Marco Mattiacci wore sunglasses all day in cloudy, smoggy Shanghai.
“I have not slept in the last 40 hours,” explained Ferrari’s brand new team boss, who is mere days into his shock new tenure in the wake of Stefano Domenicali’s exit. The second the 43-year-old first stepped into the Shanghai paddock on Friday, a swarm of photographers never left his side.
The anticipation of Mattiacci’s first words to the press were so highly anticipated because – running Ferrari North America aside – he is totally unknown. “I like motor sports and have spent about 20 days at race tracks,” he is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. “Three times I have seen the 24 hours of Daytona. But, of course, that is not formula one.”
Indeed it is not, but Mattiacci insists he can bring “new perspectives” to arguably the highest-pressure job at the pinnacle of motor racing. He has been on the Ferrari payroll for 14 years, as president Luca di Montezemolo said during the week that he preferred promoting from within rather than headhunting a “mercenary” like Ross Brawn.
But his experience at Maranello’s fabled Gestione Sportiva can now be counted in the mere dozens of hours. The first phone call was on Monday. “I was in New York when I got the call from Luca di Montezemolo at 5.58,” Mattiacci smiled. “At first I thought it was a joke. “Afterwards I flew to Milan where I had three meetings. My predecessor Domenicali was there as well.”
Admitting his surprise at landing the top job in red aside, the main message of Mattiacci’s first meeting with the press on Friday was to deny reports and rumours that Ferrari is already preparing to write off the 2014 title. “We do not give up,” he insisted. “The world title must remain the goal. “Ferrari has many talented people, the budget, good tools, pride and a great history. “The aim must be to bridge the gap to Mercedes as soon as possible. It is going to be a very difficult task.”