Formula 1’s managing director Ross Brawn is of the view that Sergio Marchionne’s sudden death has impacted Ferrari’s performances off-late in the 2018 season.
Marchionne has been instrumental in Ferrari’s decision-making as he spearheaded the F1 programme with a close interest. Not just the manufacturer’s participation but he also worked closely with the race team management.
The news of Marchionne’s untimely death on July 25 shocked the automotive world as much as it did the motor racing community. The mood during the Hungarian Grand Prix wasn’t over the top as well as the team raced on with a heavy heart.
The summer break gave them the time to digest the news as it came all guns blazing in Belgian Grand Prix to defeat Mercedes. However, it quickly crumbled in Italian Grand Prix and it all went downhill from there on.
As a result, Ferrari sits 78 points behind Mercedes whereas Sebastian Vettel is 67 behind Lewis Hamilton with only four races remaining. As a former experienced team leader, Brawn feels the death has had an impact on the performances.
“As was the case last year, in September and October Ferrari seems to have gone off the rails,” wrote Brawn in his post-race column. “Up until Monza, the Scuderia had seemed capable of fighting for both titles all the way to the end.
“But the trips to Singapore, Russia and Japan put a stop to that, particularly in the Drivers’ classification. As an outsider it’s always difficult to give a correct assessment as to why this has happened.
“It’s obvious from even a brief analysis of the way the car behaves that Ferrari has a very strong technical package, thanks to the efforts of the past few years which has seen the team close a technical gap to Mercedes that had developed since the introduction of hybrid power units in 2014.
“Compared to last year, even Ferrari’s reliability has improved. So where’s the problem? There is no doubt the shock of the sudden death of its leader, Sergio Marchionne, who had been such a strong reference in the team, will have a major impact, and that is totally understandable.
“Having experienced many crises myself during my time with Ferrari, what I know is that this is the time to come together, stay united and look ahead, without resorting to recrimination and playing the blame game.
“Drivers, engineers and management all win and lose together, which is an unwritten rule in every sport, not just Formula 1. Everyone at Maranello knows that. Now is the time to try and turn things around and finish in style a season that has many positives.”
At the same time, Brawn praised Hamilton and Mercedes for the consistent show as they close in another title win. He was all positive for Racing Point Force India too as the team continues to perform despite the horrors of administration.
“The fight for the ‘best of the rest’ title gets more closely contested with every passing race,” he wrote. “Racing Point Force India were the deserved winners in Suzuka, with a repeat of their success at Spa and Monza.
“The personnel working at Silverstone can be hugely proud of what they’ve achieved this year, in really difficult circumstances. Total the points from the pre-Belgium team and the reborn squad and Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon have brought home over 100 points between them, which is impressive given the constraints the team was working under.
“They could do even better than their current seventh place, as sixth-placed McLaren are only 15 points ahead and over the past five races the Woking team have only picked up six points compared to 43 for Racing Point Force India.
“That alone is motivation for the drivers, especially Ocon, who is currently without a drive for 2019, while Perez, the only driver from outside the top three teams to make it to the podium this year, must be looking to put on a good show for the fans in his home race at the end of this month.”