F1 Frontline with Mark Hughes

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Twenty-three years on and Ferrari’s saviour Luca di Montezemolo has left the building, with more than a little urging by his Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne. It’s a move that probably has much to do with the Fiat-Chrysler group’s listing on the New York stock exchange and Marchionne needing to be seen to be in charge of the group’s most valuable and profitable brand, but the steady decline of the Scuderia’s F1 form has not been the greatest of shop windows.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that di Montezemolo presided over the longest period of sustained title success of any team in the sport’s history. But that gentle slide into mediocrity has been on his watch, too, and reflects a lack of the sort of vision he seemed to possess when he turned Ferrari – the road car company and the Scuderia – around in the mid-90s. In F1 terms he made one very expensive mistake back in 2007, one that might ultimately have sealed his fate.

That was the year Kimi Räikkönen gave the team its sole post-Schumacher world title (for drivers) and, apart from the distraction of ‘Stepney-gate’, everything seemed to be going swimmingly. The momentum of the previous Ross Brawn-led era was enough to see the team through; Ross had left a highly capable bunch of people and a good structure behind and everyone just kept doing what they’d always done. Little had changed other than Ross taking a year’s sabbatical. But at some stage that year Brawn made a visit to Maranello, discussed whether he would return after his break and did not get a positive message. Di Montezemolo’s vision was of a more Italian Ferrari, run by home-grown people within the company rather than expensive ‘mercenaries’ bought in from outside. The ongoing success seemed to indicate – superficially – that Ross was not needed, that he was of the past.

So Brawn took the Honda job and history unfolded as it did – with the subsequent Honda withdrawal laying foundations for the world title-winning Brawn Grand Prix and the further subsequent buy-out of that team by Mercedes, still with Ross at the helm. The momentum at Ferrari, meanwhile, was showing signs of petering out and would soon be relying very heavily – too heavily – upon the genius and competitive will of Fernando Alonso to keep it in contention at all. Technically, it was being left behind as earlier long-term strategic managerial decisions – such as not rehiring Brawn and initially turning down requests for a new wind tunnel – came home to roost.

But the biggest challenge for everyone lay ahead, in the form of the radically new hybrid formula. Recognising the scale of this challenge, Brawn began preparations years in advance. The whole trade-off between engine and aerodynamic performance needed to be reassessed, initially without any real idea of the implications on the rest of the car of the new fuel flow-limited hybrid turbo V6s. Some of the answers only became clear as the power unit took shape – and Mercedes found itself in a perfect position to discover them as Brawn had set up a beautifully integrated project team between the chassis and engine sides of the operation. The chassis team began asking fundamental questions of the engine people and vice-versa, with the answers opening up doors of possibility that had never previously been considered. With just a year to go, the car they’d been working on was canned – and they started again, using the new knowledge of how the fundamental requirements had changed.

At Ferrari – and everywhere else – things were less well planned. The fundamental questions asked did not go as deep, the solutions, while similarly out of the box in many ways, were not as well supported by re-evaluation. Ferrari elected to go all-out for aero performance – the weakness of Ferraris of the previous few years – by moving the oil tank to the rear to allow the engine to be brought forwards which, in conjunction with a much longer wheelbase, would allow the maximum potential to be gained from the rear aerodynamics. But it was a concept that made what turned out to be the key technical must-have of the new era – a compressor split from the turbine and mounted at the front – impossible. The difference in vision between what Brawn oversaw at Mercedes and that in place at Maranello was suddenly laid starkly bare.

Now Montezemelo could see the benefit of having Brawn on board. Ross didn’t invent the split turbo concept, but he was behind the strategic planning that put in place the group that did, bringing the right people together in the right structure and ensuring they had the time to mine deep into the problem.

So Ferrari has now decided it can do without its president. But boy, does it ever need Brawn.

You may also like

Related products