Ferrari chairman expects another tough season in 2015


The amount of change that has gone on at Ferrari has been almost dizzying to behold.

Sebastian Vettel has come in to replace Fernando Alonso (now at McLaren) as Kimi Raikkonen’s teammate, while Maurizio Arrivabene has become team principal following the exits of both Stefano Domenicali and Marco Mattiacci.

There are the additions of Esteban Gutierrez as reserve driver and Jean-Eric Vergne as test driver (plus the impending arrival of engineer Jock Clear), as well as the departures of Pat Fry (technical director), Nikolas Tombazis (chief designer), and Hirohide Hamashima (tire specialist).

And let’s not forget the top job of chairman, which has now been taken by Sergio Marchionne after the resignation of Luca di Montezemolo.

The big question is if all of that will lead to Ferrari closing the gap to front-runners Mercedes. Marchionne is hopeful, but figures that pulling even with the Silver Arrows will only happen after some time – and not next season.

“I think 2015 is going to be a reconstitution year,” Marchionne said Monday to reporters before the team’s annual Christmas lunch in Maranello. “It will be Maurizio’s first full year with the team. I think hopefully within the next 12 months, we will remove all the baggage of uncertainty that is going to plague at least the initial phase of 2015.

“Not to underestimate the significance or the magnitude of the task, I think Ferrari can probably get to the same place [as Mercedes] by the end of 2015. Some of the work has already started. We need to be able to emulate their success.”

Arrivabene was also present at today’s conference, and said that Ferrari’s 2015 machine had already passed its FIA crash tests. He also set a minimum goal of two Grand Prix victories for the team.

“If we win two [races] it will be a success, with three it would be a triumph,” he said of his hopes for 2015. “If we win four, we go to heaven.”

He added: “I can guarantee the team is putting in a phenomenal effort. We have people here who are giving their absolute best and they have my full support. The important thing for us now is to give them courage and all the resources necessary to move forward and make the Scuderia grow.”

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.