Ferrari shakes up technical department to accelerate car development after poor start to 2020

2020 F1 season

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Ferrari has announced a reorganisation of its technical department to accelerate development of its car in the wake of its poor start to the 2020 F1 season.

The team which won three races last year have lagged well off the pace of rivals Mercedes since the season began, and were unable to get both cars into the final stage of qualifying at the two opening rounds.

The SF1000’s straight-line performance is a particular weakness. This is believed to be due to a loss of engine performance since last year and its car’s high-drag characteristics.

In a statement Ferrari said its overhauled technical department will be “more focused and simplified and provides the heads of each department the necessary powers to achieve their objectives.” It involves the creation of a new department for performance development which will be run by Enrico Cardile.

“As hinted at a few days ago, we are making changes to the technical side of the organisation so as to speed up the design and development on the car performance front,” said team principal Mattia Binotto.

“A change of direction was needed to define clear lines of responsibility and working processes, while reaffirming the company’s faith in its technical talent pool. The department run by Enrico Cardile will be able to count on the experience of Rory Byrne and established engineers such as David Sanchez. It will be the cornerstone of the car’s development.

“We believe Ferrari personnel are of the highest level and we have nothing to envy about our main competitors in this respect, but we had to make a decisive change, raising the bar in terms of the responsibilities of the department heads.

“We have said it several times, but it’s worth repeating: we have started to lay the foundations of a process which should lead to a new and enduring winning cycle. It will take some time and we will suffer setbacks like the one we are experiencing right now in terms of results and performance.

“However, we must react to these shortcomings with strength and determination to get back to being at the very top of this sport as soon as possible. This is what we all want and what our fans all over the world expect of us.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “Ferrari shakes up technical department to accelerate car development after poor start to 2020”

  1. I love him they managed to name drop Rory Byrne in this statement. I doubt a 76 year old engineer is really gonna get involved.

  2. Its obvious something was going to happen. Firing people imo isnt the right path, i have no doubt there is a lot of talented intelligent people within the team. And there is no need to have a huge cull before such a huge regulation change. But I do believe Ferrari need a new team principal, one that can lead the team in F1 commission meetings, work with other stakeholders & manage its drivers. Mattia Binotto is not that person. He should be the CEO of the technical side if you like, and work & manage the different areas of technical side and set the the development path. Ferrari need a tougher leader

    1. Are you kidding me. Ferrari are just a bunch of clowns period.

      1. @aostaples lovely comment.

        I’d like to point out that the same people were the only team succeeding in at least fighting for something against Mercedes in recent times, whereas the likes of Red Bull or giants like Renault have failed more miserably.

        Thing is, no one in F1 is a clown, not even a car that is seconds from the pace like Williams was last year. Pointing out from the comfort of one’s chair only shows a complete ignorance of the complexity and level of this sport. Of course there’s something not working in terms of management of these people but calling all of the clowns shows a disrespect they don’t deserve.

        I’d also like to point out that Emilia Romagna has been hit hard by Covid and if anyone at Ferrari is not working at their best, they have my comprehension and compassion: I’m sure that in England too the situation was bad, but while I don’t know the extent of it there, I know what happened here, what my fellow Italians have gone through; I know that still now I’m not completely comfortable while working and that it will take time to get back to 100%: I can’t see why other humans like me can’t have the same issues. Having a red shirt doesn’t make them supermen.

        As a true Ferrari fan, who’s gone through good and bad times, I’m sure they’ll return. It will take time and patience, I’ll be angry and frustrated, but that’s part of being passionate about something.

  3. Usual response with head rolling about.

    1. Where?
      No head rolled here…

  4. “Ferrari need a tougher leader”
    Is Klopp available anytime soon?

    1. That would take 5 years and a penalty on the 1st minute of the race.

  5. So, they disbanded Mysterious Engine Power department?

    And replaced it with this Performance Development department?

    Good I guess…

  6. Ferrari are lagging in the political not the technical department. Technicians won’t be able to do anything when they are paralyzed because of stupid decisions. There is currently a 2 year freeze on chassis and Power Units agreed by Ferrari, which is beyond me, when they were upper handed PU wise and meanwhile Mercedes are amazingly rocketing in the performance.
    Ferrari must throw all of its resources on the 2022 car and don’t sign anything (new regs, Concorde agreement…) before getting someone political à la Ross Brawn to run the team or expect another 10 years drought of championships.

    1. The Token system needs to depend on WWC position. Maybe how they finished the previous year.
      So Merc get 2 or say 0 tokens.
      and Williams get 20 tokens as they finished last.

    2. @tifoso1989 maybe it could be the case that the deal that the FIA struck with Ferrari might have been along the lines of agreeing not to punish Ferrari for their engine in 2019 in return for Ferrari agreeing to the reforms that the FIA and Liberty Media wanted to push through?

      1. anon,
        Could be very logical indeed. Ferrari won’t be punished in exchange for their loyalty to Liberty/FIA. However, my personal opinion is that Ferrari should have never settled and should have taken the fight to the FIA and drag them into the court, drain their resources if needed in a process in which they can’t prove that Ferrari were bypassing the fuel flow sensor.

        This kind of loyalty didn’t do them any good over the years. Whenever they agree on something with the FIA, we find out later that it is in the interest of the competition mainly Mercedes and I’m not blaming them. Mercedes are just outfoxing Ferrari in the political department and Toto proved to be an old wolf BTW. What strikes more is that Ferrari management are not realizing what’s happening and are in continuous search for scapegoats and excuses (Wind tunnel, simulation, correlation, PU…).

        With regard to the settlement, Giorgio Terruzzi of the Corriere Della Sera has shed light into how the FIA investigated the 2019 Ferrari PU based on information obtained illegally. He claims that a rival team conspired with someone who knows the most secret aspects of the Ferrari PU in what he calls an industrial espionage operation in order to triggered the investigation. He claims also that his source is an FIA technician.

        Well, many would not believe that story coming from the Italian media and Terruzzi is not Mark Hughes or Giorgio Piola, however this is a very serious accusation that involves both Ferrari and the FIA and he could risk a lot by publishing such a story. I bet that neither parties would comment since the matter is settled and they were both satisfied. I suspect that a clause in the settlement would prevent the case from further prosecution.

        The thing is a big part of the SF1000 problems derives from the fact that it was designed around a more powerful PU that was generating an important amount of heat which requires more cooling and have a direct impact on the aerodynamics and the radiators. The latters will be modified in Silverstone to cope with the new cooling requirement of a less powerful PU.

        Ferrari agrees to settle with the FIA despite there was no evidence on what they were doing. I know everybody knows the end result (major fuel flow). In the meantime, Racing Point and Mercedes have already convinced the FIA (Tombazis & Co) that RP has reverse engineered the W10 to the millimetre from photos alone. Brawn also gave his blessing. My point is that Ferrari is politically weak and if the top management can’t sort this out, they cannot compete with Mercedes.

        1. @tifoso1989 Give this man a comment of the week.

          There is currently a 2 year freeze on chassis and Power Units agreed by Ferrari, which is beyond me

          And everyone knew the car was weak before the agreement.

          Racing Point and Mercedes have already convinced the FIA (Tombazis & Co) that RP has reverse engineered the W10 to the millimetre from photos alone. Brawn also gave his blessing. My point is that Ferrari is politically weak and if the top management can’t sort this out, they cannot compete with Mercedes.

          in the end people don’t realise Ferrari is not the juggernaut of old, ferrari is the 3rd biggest team in f1, they are as well funded as ever but not in the same ball park as the top 2. their rivals main advantage is the fact mercedes is just a sponsor, no strings attached and RB is a drinks company, losing car races does not taint a beverage company therefore both can threaten to leave and fom is going to roll the carpet for them, the red carpet. In fairness both have in
          vested in f1, both with multiple teams and both have hosted races.

        2. @tifoso1989 but is it really in their interests to do that, or could doing so in reality be more of a pyrrhic victory for Ferrari?

          Dragging the case through the courts, whilst possible for Ferrari, might be a risky strategy that would not necessarily be in their interests. In the process of a court case, Ferrari might end up having to present technical details of their engine in a public forum – now, not only might the team not want to have details of their technical capabilities revealed publicly, there is also the issue that part of Ferrari’s defence rested on intellectual property held by third parties that they could not reveal.

          The very thing that created difficulties in allowing the FIA to probe Ferrari’s power unit – those third party IP rights – could, at the same time, become a weakness for Ferrari because they would then face difficulties in being unable to present that evidence in a court of law.

          Furthermore, there is one risk that Ferrari faces going down that route – which is the consequences of losing such a legal case. If they tried that tactic and lost, we’ve seen how other teams caught up in cheating scandals suffered fairly heavy reputational and financial damage – and might also raise questions about their eligibility for financial payments and run the risk of issues like disqualification from the 2019 WCC. Even if it was a low probability event, the problem is that the consequences of trying to drag the case through the courts might make it unpalatable because the risks are too high.

          Additionally, the changes to the decision making structure has reduced the ability of teams like Ferrari to stonewall or block regulations in that way quite markedly, begging the question of whether Ferrari would have been trying to fight a battle that it would have already lost.

          Under the voting structure of the time, the FIA had introduced the rule changes far enough in advance that a majority vote from the teams would have been enough for them to pass – and the changes in governance earlier this year means that majority votes for further rule changes are enough, meaning Ferrari doesn’t have the voting power to stop those reforms.

          Even if Ferrari wanted to, the current situation is such that the FIA would probably have the legal right to state that the current covid-19 situation is a case of “force majeure” that would allow it to act unilaterally and force the changes through. In that case, the indication is that even the nuclear option of Ferrari’s veto powers would be useless, as it seems the terms of the veto do have constraints on them that allow that veto power to be overridden in the sort of crisis which we are living through.

          Also, whilst you say that “Mercedes are just outfoxing Ferrari in the political department”, is it more of a case that Ferrari is now in a situation where their old tactics no longer work and the team just doesn’t have the leverage that it might need to try the sort of tactics you want to suggest?

          For example, threatening to quit the sport doesn’t have much weight now because there is nowhere else for Ferrari to go and it would hurt them too much to do so. Threatening to go to IndyCar is no threat given they’d be just an engine supplier – if they’re worried now about cutting staff due to the budget cap in F1, it’d hurt Ferrari a lot more to downsize to what IndyCar operates on now.

          Furthermore, with Liberty Global, the parent company of Liberty Media, having a stake in IndyCar, you’re not necessarily hurting them all that much – because you’d be reducing the value of one investment, but increasing the value of their other investment.

          Similarly, threatening to go to the WEC is pointless given that Audi demonstrated that, even on a more modest budget, the returns on investment in that series are too small – and, again, the issues with staff redundancies are far larger there than any alternative.

          Those sorts of hardline tactics only work if the sport thinks it has more to lose, but Ferrari’s interdependence on the sport means that it’s now in a situation where it now has too much to lose by such tactics. I think the reason why Ferrari might have had to take such a settlement is that, quite simply, they know they’re not the power they once were and trying such tactics now won’t work.

          1. anon,
            Thanks for the thorough explanation !

      2. @ anon
        That’s really astute, it would explain a lot.

    3. +100
      Agree with you on Ferrari’s lack of success and Mercedes’ success has a lot to do with politics and knowing how to create rules and judgments that favour you. Cudo’s to Mercedes for being the masters at playing the long game, for having vision and foresight. Feels like all the other teams are only looking a year or two ahead and Mercedes is looking much further ahead. I would not be surprised if Mercedes have not already planned exactly how to dominate the next ten years should they feel it will benefit them.

  7. It sounds like a scene from a movie.

    “- Who’s responsible for this?”
    Dead silence… then a shot is heard in the background… manager falls dead.

    “- Hey, you!” – finger pointing to the new kid – ” you’re the boss now!”

  8. They must have known since midway last season that their engine sensor tweaking scheme was going to be challenged by other teams and probably ruled out by FIA. So what have they been doing since then to make up for the near inevitable performance drop and why is their car still designed around a concept (high speed on straights) they knew wasn’t going to be sustainable? And what other new ideas have they come up with? Apparently none. It’s all round bad. And that’s without mentioning their driver situation and the way they dumped Vettel, which seems mishandled too. Feeble.

  9. I bet Seb is feeling better and better every day that he won’t be around next year.

    1. @phillyspur I don’t think we’ve seen the last of that story either. It’s going to get ‘interesting’ as the season develops to see how Ferrari try to deal with Vettel with a point to prove, and looking more adapted to the current car, and a Leclerc to support as their future driver (at least until Sainz arrives). Given the number of fallouts last year, it’s hard not to imagine further flash points over the next bunch of races.

    2. Racing Point looks Mighty attractive right now.

    3. The question is – how will he feel when the billionaire’s son beats him in the same car?

  10. They should scrap all efforts on this car / generation and focus all their time and effort on the new rules.

    What’s the point of being rubbish for the next 7 years instead of just 2.

  11. I need to praise how they are saying all the right words.

    I wish their Performance matched their PR.

    Meanwhile Mercedes seems to fail on the PR front, about the only weakness they have.

    Now Toto is lost for words when he cannot cry of Wolf in Ferrari clothing.

    The Vettel thing is horribly done, but the right move. They needed to pick, Leclerc or Vettel, and they did.

  12. “…we have started to lay the foundations of a process which should lead to a new and enduring winning cycle.” Just a thought, but shouldn’t you have done this five years ago when you hired the four-time WDC?

    1. Don’t get me wrong, I like every driver driving for the scuderia, as Ferrari is and will be my favourite team. Now answering your question: I think Ferrari assumed that the 4 time WDC they were hiring would be maximizing every opportunity like their previous 2 times WDC hiring Alonso. Sadly this didn’t happen and the 4 time WDC managed to make mistakes in the two seasons on which he had a machine that could rival Mercedes.

    2. The stuff they were doing 5 years ago is old hat! Somehow they think “starting over” and reshuffling the senior leadership will lead to a better outcome.

      How are they going to end up ahead of that other team that started off on a higher level than them in 2014, and kept raising the bar each year since then?

  13. Deckchairs on the good ship Ferrari !

    1. Sounds like Management reorganizing Management and pitching that this is a Great Performance Booster.
      Not sure what “management” has been doing to get themselves into a position where they have to admit …”we found the problem and the problem is us.”

  14. The Williams method of managing failure: shoot a few pawns, shuffle the chairs but leave the captain still steering towards the rocks with smoke curling from the barrel of the pistol in his hand and a PR man wibbling away to the press about ‘ a step towards success’ and’ the new team are brilliant’ while in fact that team is now constantly looking over its shoulder rather than cooperating and focusing on the job.

  15. “more focused and simplified and provides the heads of each department the necessary powers to achieve their objectives.”

    Away from the ‘flat’ hierarchical structure back to the more traditional? The pendulum from the blame culture swung too far the other way?

  16. If you really do not have a clue what’s wrong a restructure always works.
    Especially when the one responsible for the disaster keeps his place.
    Ferrari rulebook for mismanaged organisations.

  17. playstation361
    22nd July 2020, 23:57

    I hope cars develop stamina.

  18. For those who are dubious, I worked in a place where every proposed change had to go through what seemed like hundreds of meetings and management seemed afraid to make even the most basic of decisions without pushing it through the quagmire of administration. Needless to say, the technical staff were frustrated and disheartened and we were often so slow to implement change that the market had passed that change by.
    If this was the picture of Ferrari, then this type of change could be just what they need.

  19. As a relatively young and new Ferrari fan this is what I love to hear.
    Long term plans and setting up hopefully a dynamic to change yet faster decision making structure that will bring many years of success.
    Nevermind 2020 and 2021 if in 2022 or even 2023 we’re back to the front again everything will be alright in F1.
    To quote Sir Binotto himself, “firing people won’t make the car faster”
    Feels pretty good as a Ferrari fan to hear behind the scenes work is being done.

  20. Strange that Enrico Gualtieri (in charge of the Power Unit) remains in his position when it would appear that the PU is Ferrari’s main problem…

  21. Making positive and targeted change instead of the traditional “lets change everything” is a breath of fresh air for Ferrari. Its definitely going to take quite some time but hopefully we’ll see it edge forwards.

    My guess is that for Ferrari and a couple of other teams, 2022 cant come quick enough as it’s apparent that their current Chassis/PU combinations aren’t quite winning material and there’s essentially nothing that can be done about that for this year or next other than applying some minor developments that might bring some improvement but not massive ones.

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