Ferrari Braced for Another Hard Year in 2015


Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne drew a line under a dismal year for Formula One's most glamorous and successful team on Monday but made clear that 2015 would also be a season of struggle.

Speaking at a news conference before Christmas lunch at the team's Fiorano test track, Marchionne left no doubt there was a hard road ahead before Ferrari could catch up with dominant Mercedes.

"We must forget 2014," said the Fiat Chrysler (FCA) chief executive who replaced Luca Di Montezemolo as Ferrari chairman in October. "I don't want to talk about 2014."

The Italian outfit failed to win a race this year, their first blank season since 1993, and have said farewell to two team principals in a general clearout and restructuring.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso has left for McLaren, with Red Bull's quadruple champion Sebastian Vettel arriving to try to galvanize the restructured team after they finished fourth overall.

Newly-appointed principal Maurizio Arrivabene warned, in his first official news conference, that he could not work miracles and Marchionne agreed the team now needed time.

Marchionne said Ferrari, whose engine has been outperformed by champions Mercedes, were paying a price for decisions made under the previous management.

"We started late with the 2015 car, certain choices and strategies that were made by others and that, in retrospect, I don't necessarily share," he added.

"So 2015 will be a difficult year that will put the team to a real test."

Asked how long it would take Ferrari to recover, Marchionne said: "I think 2015 is going to be a reconstitution year. It will be Maurizio's first full year with the team.

"I think hopefully within the next 12 months we will remove all the baggage of uncertainty that is going to plague at least the initial phase of 2015.

"Not to underestimate the significance or the magnitude of the task, I think Ferrari can probably get to the same place (as Mercedes) by the end of 2015. Some of the work has already started. We need to be able to emulate their success."

Arrivabene, who has years of experience working on the governing body's F1 commission as a sponsor representative, said the 2015 car was on schedule and had passed crash tests.

He said two wins next year would be a success, even if the legions of fans might not see it the same way, and three a triumph.

"If we win four, we go to heaven," added Marchionne.

(By Alan Baldwin; Editing by Tony Jimenez)