Former Ferrari team member Alberto Antonini feels that the Maranello team need full overhaul of culture in order for their people to be able to perform their tasks without fear. Alberto Antonini, who during 2015 and 2019 was Ferrari’s head press officer, shares his thoughts on where he thinks the Italian side is not managing to challenge Mercedes and Red Bull despite the F1-75 car being the fatest car in most races this season.
In the last race ahead of the summer break, Scuderia Ferrari Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc lost the race win in the Hungarian Grand Prix and even a podium finish, despite the fact that his pace was strong in the first part of the race. A poor strategy decision made by the Maranello team compromised his chances of fighting for the win. This was in complete opposition with Red Bull, who was able to win despite Max Verstappen started from from tenth place.
This has led to widespread criticism of the Maranello team, who despite having a strong car in 2022 were not able to take the challenge to Red Bull and seem to have already lost the title. Alberto Antonini was invited on an episode of the GoF1 Show, hosted by Matthew Marsh and first talked about Sebastian Vettel’s period with the Italian side, admitting that the four-time former World Champion “annoyed” the Scuderia due to his presenting of methodologies he had brought with him after moving from Red Bull.
He also talked about about the culture within Ferrari, especially particularly in the strategy department which has proven to be the Italian squad’s main weakness in recent years, and explained it was simply a case of ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ within.
“If you speak about strategy, I would rather talk about tactics because I like to stress the point, the difference. Tactics is what you probably apply on a smaller scale. Tactics is the battle, whereas strategy is the war. The process needs to be refined. My personal view, I’m not an expert at this, but I would just love to see it being made slimmer in a way. At the moment, what we have on the Ferrari wall and in the remote garage is probably too many people. So many people speaking their mind and nobody actually taking the final decision. It was a situation [in Hungary] that called for quick reaction and flexibility. My feeling is the team lacked this flexibility that was so badly needed. They have to overcome some sort of psychological issue, a block if you wish. With a car which is so fast, there is no point to just having your race copying Verstappen’s race. They should have tried going their own way and probably come out better. Whereas it is acceptable they didn’t get the win, because the car actually went down in terms of performance towards the end of the race, which needs to be investigated as well. What is not acceptable is they even failed to get a podium finish. It’s just bad to see Charles finish as low as sixth. This is unthinkable and that shouldn’t have happened. They need to rethink and refine and slim down the process of decision-making because they need more flexibility and more reactivity to the actual conditions you see.” – the former Ferrari team member explained.
Alberto Antonini feels that the staff in the key positions at Scuderia Ferrari are all very competent in doing their job, but are working in a culture of fear – which means that no brave decision-making is encouraged. He gave an example from four years ago, when Ferrari was fighting Mercedes and made a huge error in the Japanese Grand Prix:
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“Remember 2018 at Suzuka?” he said. “We went out on wets and it’s dry. That was a moment of embarrassment for me as well because I had to explain the reasons. It really puzzled me at the time and still baffles me, because I keep hearing from people in the Scuderia that there’s always some guy afterwards who comes up and says ‘I think we made the right decision, and if I was given the opportunity I would do that again’. Which honestly peeves me a little bit. It’s probably a matter of culture. I think all the people there are competent, and they have a good build-up. So they don’t need to be under pressure for whatever they do. They have to start to realise, and it has to be the case, that if you make a mistake, if you do something wrong, you don’t necessarily get slashed or you have to leave your job or get sacked – because it doesn’t happen with other teams. If you feel safe in the place you are working in, that will probably help you work better. I think it works in every company – it’s not a secret.” – he concluded.