New Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci faced the media for the first time in China today after taking over from Stefano Domenicali earlier this week. The Italian – who had remained hidden behind his dark sunglasses for much of the weekend – outlined his determination for the rest of the year, and is refusing to give up despite the team making its worst start to a season since 2009.
Mattiacci had been working as the Italian marque’s North America CEO in New York, but he has now been moved across to the sporting side of the outfit. Despite not having much experience in racing, he is confident that he can bring a fresh outlook to the team.
“I think sometimes you can bring a new perspective, looking at issues and opportunities, and the fact that I need to prove that at the level of Ferrari first, and at the level of Formula 1, means you are in front of an exceedingly motivated person,” Mattiacci explained to the media.
“I love racing, I race myself in my spare time. I spend probably 20 or 22 weekends at the track last year and I attended the 24 Hours of Daytona, sleeping at the track and trying to learn as much as I could.
“It’s not Formula1, but I love racing, I love continuous improvement, challenging a team to give a better car and get as much as we can from the track.”
Despite the team’s poor start to the season, Mattiacci still believes that it can win both championships this year with the star-studded line-up of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.
“I don’t think we are going to give up,” he said. “Our goal is to close the gap as much as we can with the leaders and at the moment that is Mercedes. There are many variables that can influence a lap that can influence a race and a championship.
“It’s still very early to make decisions but our goal is to close the gap as soon as possible with Mercedes. It’s not an easy task, not an easy task.”
Mattiacci also revealed that he only got the call from Luca di Montezemolo last Friday about taking over from Domenicali, and spent some time with the outgoing team boss in order to learn the ropes.
“I received a call at 5:58am on Friday morning and the chairman Montezemolo was on the phone and told me ‘this is my idea’,” he explained. “I thought that April fool was already 15 days earlier so in the second or third minutes of the discussion I understood he was serious, and I understood that because there was already a ticket ready to go from New York to Milan in three hours. I arrived on Saturday morning in Maranello at the Fiorano track.”
And as for the sunglasses? Tiredness, given that he had spent the majority of the last week on planes and in airports.
The initial skepticism about having a ‘commercial’ manager come into the team as Domenicali’s replacement may not have disappeared just yet, but it was certainly an encouraging press conference from Mattiacci.
“What is needed will be done,” he said. Ferrari might be on the verge of some changes to fit in with its new F1 team boss.