Ferrari chairman and newly-appointed CEO Sergio Marchionne has assured Formula 1 team principal Maurizio Arrivabene his job is safe.
Arrivabene’s position has come into question of late following Ferrari’s underwhelming start to the season, with the Scuderia already 81 points adrift of Mercedes in the constructors’ championship ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.
Prior to the race Marchionne had cranked up the pressure by stating he expected the team “to win shortly, starting with Spain.” But following a poor qualifying, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel start on the third row of the grid behind a Mercedes front row, with the Red Bulls on the second.
Asked whether Arrivabene had his confidence, an unequivocal Marchionne said: “Totally, beyond any question.”
Rumors in the Italian press had suggested technical director James Allison was in line to replace Arrivabene. But when asked if changes were needed to any aspect of the Ferrari line-up, Marchionne replied: “No.
“I still think we have two of the world’s best drivers. We probably have the best drivers, and I shouldn’t be saying this with four drivers who are not ours in front of us, but we have great drivers.
“The team is in the best shape I’ve seen it for a long, long time. They need to continue to work diligently on these issues, and I would not make a huge issue out of the fact that yesterday we had this out-of-body experience with operating the car in a temperature window that was not operable.
“Had we known it we would have done different things with the tires, we would have done a variety of things differently. We’re learning and we’ll get better at this.”
Ferrari had appeared set to challenge Mercedes following practice, only to fall away alarmingly in qualifying.
Marchionne compared the slump to Mercedes’ loss of pace in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix, when it failed to get its tires working.
“Yesterday afternoon we left whatever luck we have elsewhere – it could be in your pants for all I know! But we did not have it on the track,” he said. “We had an interesting conversation with Dieter [Zetsche, Daimler chairman] about this as the Mercedes team had a similar experience in Singapore last year.
“There is an operating window regarding the tyre temperatures, and as a result of the increase in temperature on the track, we were not ready. It caught us off-guard. Both drivers felt sort of inadequate at the time, but there was not much that could be done.”