It is just a few days since Sergio Marchionne took over as chairman of Ferrari, taking the role from Luca di Montezemolo. At the same time the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles company began trading on the New York Stock with shares priced at $9.00. The market has been rather wary and the share price is now down to $8.60 after the first few days of trading.
Marchionne has said that he does not see the need for Ferrari to be floated, in addition to the FCA initial public offering. He says that he has no intention of screwing up the DNA of Ferrari. Luca di Montezemolo had advocated a strategy of capping production to around 7,000 cars a year in order to preserve the exclusivity and the high prices enjoyed by Ferrari. Marchionne believes that strong demand from the growing number of millionaires around the world can allow a little further expansion in Ferrari production without affecting the brand. However, in an interview with Autocar, he has made it quite clear that Ferrari needs to be producing better results in F1 and that this is of vital importance to the company. This makes sense given that Ferrari does very little advertising apart from F1 and it is therefore important that the team does as well as possible.
“A non-winning Ferrari on the Formula 1 track is not Ferrari,” he said. “We’ve got to kick some ass and we’ve got to do it quickly. It takes what it takes. We might screw up, but we’ve got nothing to lose, right? Let’s risk something.”
James Allison and his team of designers at Maranello are now working on the 2015 cars and there are hopes that this will be more competitive but building F1 cars at the moment is a very complicated matter. There was a time when the engines were largely irrelevant because they were all pegged at around the same level of performance, and the chassis dictated everything but that has changed and Ferrari and Renault have both been left behind by the Mercedes engines. One can clearly see that on a horsepower circuit such as Monza, the non-Mercedes teams were struggling.
There has been a great deal of discussion in recent days after whether or not the engine rules should be altered to allow more changes than original proposed. This would probably help Mercedes’s rivals to improve their products, but the danger is that it might also give Mercedes the chance to further increase its lead. Keeping the rules open might also help to attract more companies to the sport, particularly once there is more knowledge about the new engines flowing around in the marketplace, which inevitably happens when there is a new formula. Having said that the advantage enjoyed by Mercedes is not as simple as it may appear. An internal combustion engine is an internal combustion engine and engineers have been developing these for more than 100 years so the advantage enjoyed by Mercedes this year is not as simple as saying that they did not build as good an engine. The recently departed Ferrari engine chief Luca Marmorini has said that Maranello has not forgotten how to make good engines, rather has failed because it is difficult to find the right balance between the internal combustion engine, the energy harvesting systems and deployment of this energy. He also said that he believed that the integration between the engine and the chassis needed to be better and claimed that the Ferrari engine design was compromised because the chassis department claimed that it would produce aerodynamic advantages would make up for the losses that were created by designing a less efficient engine than might otherwise have been the case.