Marchionne and Maserati

There are rumours coming out Italy that Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne wants Haas F1 to take on Maserati sponsorship in 2018, along similar lines to the deal that was recently struck with Sauber for the team to be sponsored by Alfa Romeo. The word is that the engines would remain Ferraris and that it would simply be a case of title sponsorship – for the time-being. This would give Marchionne a level of control over Haas in the political battles ahead in F1, although Gene Haas does not need the money and so might simply tell Marchionne that he is not interested. The deal would no doubt save Haas a great deal of money but it is fairly clear that Marchionne would want to be able to place drivers with the team in the longer term. Haas insists that it is sticking with its current line-up of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen next year.

Maserati is a brand that has long associations with the sport, dating back to the 1920s. The last Maserati team in F1 was as long ago as 1957, shortly before the firm went into receivership. There were still engines supplied after the company restructured, including engines in the 1960s, used by Cooper. The Cooper-Maseratis managed to win two races: with John Surtees at the Mexican GP in 1966 and Pedro Rodriguez in South Africa in 1967. The engines faded out of F1 as the Cosworth became the dominant force in 1968 and the last Maseratis in F1 were in 1969. By then the company had been sold to Citroen. In 1975 it was put into liquidation, although it was again revived, this time by Alejandro de Tomaso. It was then sold to Fiat in 1993 and ended up under Ferrari control from 1997 onwards, although it would return to Fiat control from 2005 onwards.

Under Marchionne the firm has introduced the Levante SUV and sales have increased significantly. Moving the brand into F1 is designed to add a bit more glitz with the likely outcome being that the Alfa Romeo-Maserati division will be spun off, in order to reduce FCA’s debt and make it more attractive for a sale or a merger.

29 thoughts on “Marchionne and Maserati

  1. Thank you for the interesting news. Yes, whilst FCA is almost worthless, Maserati is part of a financially linked but independent ‘Ferrari-Maserati’ division which has already been floated.

    Stripping out Alfa Romeo from FCA has been something that many – especially Volkswagen Group (VWG) – would desire. They would happily pay a huge amount to get their hands on this name, an ambition that VWG alone have harbored for more than 2 decades.

    One more thing. Much of the Maserati new product portfolio owes as much to FCA North America platforms as it does to carefully re-engineered Ferrari petrol powertrains. Not for the first time Chrysler / Dodge / RAM / Jeep will be left at the platform as the train pulls out.

    1. as far as I know such a “Ferrari-Maserati” entity doesn’t exist.
      Within FCA, “C” is also valuable, while “F” seems to be more of a liability though the 500 and Abarth product lines may have good reasons to exist.
      Ghibli and Quattroporte share the same platform ; the Stelvio SUV is based on the Giorgio platform (same as Giulia).
      New cars including Chryslers and Dodge will share a new paltform for new models lineup starting 2021/2022

      1. The Ferrari SpA division was stripped out of FCA at the same time as Fiat Industrial, which includes Case New Holland, Iveco and Magnetti Marelli / Automotive Lighting. Since then the FCA investment has moved around as part of the inter ‘NV’ company trading. As of 2015, as Ferrari’s IPO came to pass, Maserati was specifically excluded. This was at odds with the plan, but it was felt Maserati did not carry the same ‘value’ as Ferrari, which would then damage the IPO.The financial machinations continue at a faster pace than product development.

    2. Car and Driver has a feature this month, titled “It’s a Black-Widow Thing: Why Does Every Company that Owns Jeep Die?”

  2. That would exactly be the problem with the periodically proposed return of customer cars/teams. Unlike in the 1960s when it worked fine, todady it would inevitably lead to creation of B and possibly even C teams subservient to a handful of masters.

  3. Hi Joe,
    What is Gene’s interest level in F1 now? Do you think he is still as committed as he was a few years ago and is the concept of team – helping to sell his company’s services – bearing fruit?

  4. All this, along with the deal done with Sauber, suggests to me that Ferrari aren’t going to leave the sport (whoever would have guessed?) but instead are seeking to build up an extended power base within the it in order to do battle with the new owners. In short, they are going to be a recalcitrant lot of so and so’s in the coming years.

    Oh, joy.

  5. Joe, I think you said that the Alfa deal for Sauber was worth only 5 million. Is that 5 million and free engines, or just 5 million?

    If just 5 million, surely for Gene Haas that’s not worth the bother.

      1. I must have been $5,000,000 and Charles Leclerc I would have thought. Surely Sauber will still have to pay for their engines.

  6. I wonder if this move could also be linked to a play against Liberty, in order to strengthen Ferrari’s possible “exit” from F1 if Liberty continues down their presumed/suspected path.

    Time will tell I guess, but if I were Haas, I’d be careful of these overtures.

  7. I believe that on his third year in F1 Gene Haas is now more realistic and pragmatic businessman. So with his own net worth ca. 250-270 million dollars he should be very thankful for ‘free’ Maserati engines.

    In fact this model with supplying branded engines could save all private teams. Renault-Nissan has a lot of brands to promote: Nissan, Infiniti… and even Dacia and Lada.
    And Mercedes position? It would be: if you want the best engines you need to pay for them. ))

    1. I think Joe suggests that there is a discount, not free engines; if this is so, it makes the deal not so attractive. The value of F1 sponsorships has certainly fallen. McLaren have valued their rate too highly in the last few years in IMHO. Of course Honda money made that possible.

      Long gone are the cigarette days. Pay TV has not helped the situation as the advertising base has dramatically shrunk. This is a real issue for the new owners.

  8. I’d love to see a Dodge F1 car! Haas being American would be ideal to get branding from an American brand and kindle some American fervour. But that probably wouldn’t happen since there are are business goals behind Marchionne’s actions and those goals involve only the Italian brands, as Joe said – to probably spin them off into a separate unit.

  9. From what I’m understanding with this, Am I right in guessing that it puts HAAS between a rock and a hard place? Should they go with Maserati, they have outside driver influences. If they don’t, who knows? Maybe Sauber will get preferential assistance?

  10. Just had a vision of a breakaway Ferrari led F1 with competing teams from Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Maserati…………

  11. Sergio Marchionne is fast becoming the new bad guy of F1, replacing Bernie E. – rich, arrogant, powerful and ruthless.

    BTW, if he’s listening, I’m open to him badging my Honda Fit anything he wants for quite reasonable rates.

  12. Not sure Haas would be interesting in losing any control of his team. Granted, this may cause problems in their relationship with Ferrari, but they’ve had a couple of seasons now to gain knowledge and, I’m sure, someone else could step forward to partner with Haas.

  13. Since Sauber and Haas are customers to Ferrari’s PUs the leverage is already there for the Ferrari quits F1 scenario. Marchionne wants more control over these 2nd tier teams as servants to Ferrari’s grand plan, me thinks.

  14. I wouldn’t be surprised if Haas isn’t lining up some Ford badges for the Cosworth/Aston/McLaren 2021 engines …..

    The really sad thing about all of this is that this time last year Sergio could have picked up Manor for a song, utilised it’s Motorsport Valley base and got his young drivers a few races.

  15. I just wonder what benefit there is in your brand being in F1 when you are never ever going to be allowed to be successful even if you get a half decent car – Seb will always be the one winning…doesn’t it make Maserati and Alfa just mediocre?

  16. ha, there we go! on post reg Alfa-Sauber i just funnied reg Maseratti and there it is! I wonder what next pre-Ferrarrari name SM can pull across? He may run out of suitable existing teams

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