Ferrari is in even more trouble than we thought. The Italian team has parted ways with James Allison before he has properly had the chance to build a winning team. The move has not been explained except to say that they have “jointly decided” to end the current arrangements. Maurizio Arrivabene thanked James for his “commitment and sacrifice” and wished him success “and serenity” in the future. Allison himself was quoted as saying that he wanted to thank everyone “for the great professional and human experience we shared”.
There have been rumours in recent weeks that this was going to happen and speculation that Ferrari was chasing Ross Brawn. This was sparked by a recent visit to the factory by Sergio Marchionne. It seemed unlikely, nonetheless, even allowing for Marchionne’s lack of experience in F1, that he would do such a radical thing as firing the technical director, although he is celebrated for axeing people who do not achieve what he wants them to achieve.
There is an argument that Allison may have wanted to return to England after the shock of the recent death of his wife Rebecca, who was living in England while he worked in Italy. Some stories suggest that he may be returning to the UK to look after their three children, but it should be pointed out that the “children” are now 23, 21 and 17 and while the youngest may still be at school, the other two are already at university. This does not mean this explanation is not possible, but it is less likely than it might at first appear.
The third possible explanation is that James has decided that Ferrari is such an uphill struggle that he doesn’t want to continue, which might be a possible explanation, particularly if one is assessing one’s life after a traumatic event. Having said that James is not a man who takes commitments lightly and so he is very unlikely to have left of his own accord if there was a contract in place. Ferrari contracts are generally for five years.
James will not struggle to find work in England, even if he will probably need to take a year out for “gardening leave”. The most likely option is that he will return to Enstone to rebuild that team, with which he has long associations. He may also find McLaren knocking at his door, as he worked closely with Eric Boullier at Lotus before he departed to Italy.
Down in Maranello, Mattia Binotto will take on the role of Chief Technical Officer at Scuderia Ferrari. Whether this will result in success remains to be seen.