Where do the changes at Ferrari’s helm leave them?

Ferrari CEO and Chairman Sergio Marchionne was supposed to stay on with the company until 2021, only leaving once a successor had been found and readied. Things, however, have not gone to plan. Marchionne was taken into hospital for planned shoulder surgery, but complications have since arisen which have left him unable to return to work and in an undetermined state of health.

Once it became clear that Marchionne would not be able to return, Ferrari’s Board of Directors convened and named John Elkann as the new Chairman and proposed Louis Camilleri as the new CEO, splitting Marchionne’s old role into two separate ones. Before these appointments, Elkann was the CEO and Chairman of investment company Exor, while Camilleri was already a board member at Ferrari.

Ferrari Media

This movement has rocked Ferrari’s settling boat. The team say that their thoughts remain with Marchionne and his family, but a change this big and unscheduled will have undoubtedly thrown them.

There are going to be some sizeable short and long-term consequences of the shift for the team as they try to work out where they stand, and prepare themselves for the remainder of what could be a title-winning season for them.

One of the first issues for the new bosses to deal with is the matter of who drives alongside Sebastian Vettel next year. When Marchionne was in charge, it was thought that the team were leaning more towards the much-hyped Charles Leclerc as opposed to the aging Kimi Raikkonen but this, like everything else, has seemingly changed.

Promoting Leclerc into the Scuderia is a huge risk considering his lack of experience in F1, whereas Raikkonen is a known quantity who, while no longer very exciting, doesn’t represent as much of a gamble. This means that the Finn is much more likely to be retained now than he was before, simply because the new management aren’t going to want to come in and have one of their first major decisions be a big risk. It would be a shame for Leclerc, but he has time on his side and will certainly get to Ferrari one day.

Another thing that needs addressing is the negotiations surrounding F1’s 2021 regulation change. Marchionne had threatened to pull Ferrari out of F1 as a result of the planned engine changes, although many saw this as a bluff to give them more influence in the talks. The main question is if Ferrari’s tune will stay the same with new management – will they deal with F1’s owners Liberty Media in the same way or will things change?

F1 Chairman Chase Carey has said that they will give Ferrari time to sort themselves out before resuming talks. However, with the team having been left somewhat unstable following Marchionne’s departure, it could mean that their position in those talks will be subsequently weakened.

Ferrari Media

Then there’s the rest of this season to deal with. After issuing unclear team orders at the German Grand Prix, Raikkonen was certainly unhappy and the team as a whole just seemed a bit flustered. Vettel hit the wall and saw not only an almost certain victory slip away from him, but also the lead in both championships. Ferrari can’t afford to let another championship escape their grasp, as this is the closest they’ve been for a decade – their last constructors’ title came in 2008, with their last drivers’ title in 2007.

The Ferrari revolution, led by Marchionne, had almost been completed. The team were almost back to their championship-winning ways, and it was just that last little bit of work that was missing.

Now, with the new management in place, the question is whether Ferrari continue Marchionne’s good work, or whether it will go to waste? Only time will tell, but these next few weeks and months will be pivotal for the future of Ferrari’s F1 team.


Featured image – Ferrari Media

Opinion Piece: How has Liberty Media’s first year gone?

F1 has completed its first full season under Liberty Media’s ownership, all 20 races have been and gone, the champion has been crowned and everyone’s preparing for the year ahead. Liberty are the new kids on the block, their arrival has been met with a mixed response and they’ve got a lot to learn if they’re to manage the sport successfully.

While critics will argue that Liberty haven’t achieved an awful lot so far, it’s important to remember the unstable mess that they picked from Bernie Ecclestone on the 23rd January 2017. Bernie’s strategy was to keep F1 on an unstable platform so that no one got too comfortable however, this is the opposite of what is needed for growth and expansion.

The bias within the F1 remains for now, Ferrari still get a disproportionate amount of prize money but that’s unlikely to change as it is part of the Concorde Agreement which was signed in 2013 and runs to 2020. In spite of this, Liberty have made it clear that they intend on scrapping the controversial agreement as soon as possible.

“We have the infamous document called the Concorde Agreement, which is this agreement that comes up every six to eight years – it comes up in 2020 – which defines the financial arrangements with teams,”

“Our goal is to create much more of a long-term partnership, not a partnership that sort of has a point in time that you go out and renegotiate the next eight-year partnership, that there’s a continuum.” – Chase Carey, F1 Chairman

Even with the majority of the inner workings of F1 being locked in contracts, Liberty have started to make changes to the social element of the sport. Almost immediately the strict regulations surrounding social media usage in the paddock were relaxed, allowing teams and drivers to better connect with and involve fans.

The London Live event was an entirely new concept for F1 which brought all the drivers, bar Hamilton, to the centre of London with live music, interviews and an impressive demo run in the old cars. This type of event is going to become more common in the coming years and, with the relaxation of more regulations, can now include the current cars doing demo runs.

Another of Liberty’s changes was to the logo, this was met with swathes of criticism however, the FIA stood by Liberty’s decision so the new logo will be sticking around for 2018 and beyond.

“What we wanted to do was provide a fresh energy to the sport and I think we have a lot of plans for the future, a lot of things we want to do and we thought the logo was a good way to emphasise the excitement, fresh energy and a new day to take the sport to a new place,” – Carey

F1 unveiled their new logo at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

2017 was just the start of Liberty’s new venture, they intend to set up an in-house live streaming service for 2018 however, it will only be available in countries where there isn’t a pre-exiting TV deal that guarantees exclusivity, for example the UK and Sky.

They will also have to tackle the looming engine regulation change, set to come in for 2020. The current hybrid engines have proven to be unpopular with fans, monumentally expensive to teams and have detracted any new manufactures from joining – just look what happened to Honda. The change will be a delicate balancing act to please the current manufactures while attracting new ones and improve the show for the fans.

It’s clear that some fundamental changes need to be made to F1 if it’s to succeed in this modern world. Liberty need to take back control from the manufactures for a start; if Ferrari want to quit, let them – decisions need to be made for the benefit the sport, not one or two manufactures.

Likewise, changes need to be made to the ludicrous engine penalties; capping them at 15 places for 2018 is a start but more needs to be done to stop them ruining races, confusing fans and even deciding the championship.

Even with all that, F1 as a whole needs to be modernised, it needs to attract new fans and it needs to have a bigger, more global reach. F1 was the fastest growing sport on social media in 2017 but it still has a long way to go to have anything like the presence of the NBA, the Premier League, La Liga and such like.


Overall, Liberty Media’s first year in charge has gone as well as it could’ve, the confident manner in which they are talking is promising but there’s still a long way to go and a lot more hurdles to clear before F1 is anywhere near where it should be.