New Ferrari team boss thought job offer was April Fool prank

Mattiacci revealed how fast things had moved between him being offered the job and accepting it.

By: Agencies | Shanghai | Updated: April 19, 2014 4:10:04 pm
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso is reflected of his car side mirror ahead of Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix. (AP) Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso is reflected on his car side mirror during the practice session ahead of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. (AP)

Ferrari’s new team principal Marco Mattiacci was taken by surprise when Luca di Montezemolo offered him the top job at Formula One’s glamour team, the Italian initially believing the chairman’s approach to be a joke. Mattiacci, formerly head of the Italian carmaker’s North American operations, was named chief of Ferrari’s competition division, including the F1 team, on Monday after Stefano Domenicali took responsibility for the poor start to the season and resigned as team principal.

Mattiacci revealed on Friday ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix how fast things had moved between him being offered the job and accepting it. “I received a call at 5.58 on Friday morning and chairman Montezemolo on the phone told me, ‘this is my idea.’ And I told (him) that April Fool’s (day) was already far away, 15 days earlier,” said Mattiacci, who lives in New York.

“But then after the second, third minutes of discussion, I understood it was serious and I understood that there was already a ticket ready to go from New York to Milan after three hours. And I arrived Saturday morning in Maranello at the Fiorano track.”

Ferrari’s decision to appoint Mattiacci to lead the sport’s oldest and most successful team has been met with widespread scepticism. “It is very motivating for me. And the fact that I need to prove that I am at the level of Ferrari, first, and the level of Formula One, so you have in front of you an extremely motivated person,” Mattiacci said.

Lewis sets Friday pace 

Lewis Hamilton overcame problems with his car’s handling to return Mercedes to the top of the timesheets in the second practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix on Friday. Hamilton completed 25 laps of the Shanghai circuit in the afternoon session to end the day with a best time of one minute 38.315 seconds, edging out the morning’s pacesetter Fernando Alonso by a tenth of a second. F1 world championship leader Nico Rosberg in the other Mercedes was third, the German falling four tenths of a second short of his team mate’s benchmark. Despite ending the day fastest, Friday’s two practice sessions were far from trouble-free for Hamilton, who arrives in China having won the last two races and is gunning for his first grand prix hat-trick.

Turning up the volume

F1 engine manufacturers believe there is a limit to what they can do to improve the sound of the new power-units, they said ahead of meetings aimed at exploring ways to make the sport louder. The first meetings that will kick off the process were scheduled to take place on Friday, engine manufacturers said. Renault Sport F1’s deputy managing director Rob White said the complex new hybrid technology introduced this year, which harnesses waste heat and reuses it to power the car, limited what engine manufacturers could do to pump up the volume.

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