Ferrari’s dismal performance in the last three Asian tracks has led to incessant chatter amongst fans and industry observers on who would get fired from the team. The first on everyone’s list was Maurizio Arrivabene, Ferrari’s team principal.
After Kimi Räikkönen’s retirement at Malaysian Grand Prix, Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne had promised that action will be taken to correct the problems. Many saw this as the end of Arrivabene.
But they are far from being correct.
Speaking after the Austin race, Marchionne had ruled out any major team overhaul. He said it would be “idiotic” to find fault with Arrivabene or technical director Mattia Binotto for the team’s performance.
Batting for his team boss, Sebastian Vettel said Arrivabene is the main force behind the team’s revival in the sport and he is “absolutely” needed in the team.
Does Vettel believe Arrivabene will continue in his current role, the German said: “Absolutely. What is his strength? Look at the results, look at where Ferrari was after 2014, how competitive Ferrari was in 2014 and how in unreasonable shape it was.
“The spirit was down. He is the key person responsible for bringing that back, to open things up and change things that were done for 20 years before that.
“He has an innovative and creative way of thinking, he is the right man, he is a good leader, he is well respected by all the people – no matter what level of the company. Absolutely I am a fan.
“If you look at the results, they are coming. This year we would have liked it to be a bit different, but these things happen – we’re still growing the team, growing the culture, we are still on that journey.
“The expectation is always high. We have made massive steps in the last three years and we have to continue to make those steps.
“Where we have gone ’15-16, through ’16, and for ’17, things are heading in the right way, and he is a key person for that.”
Even though Ferrari has been down in the Asian circuits, Vettel believes the team had a “really good year” in comparison to the last few years.
The Italian squad has already lost its chance for Constructor’s Championship title as Mercedes sealed the title at Austin. Vettel’s chance of winning the driver’s championship is low since Hamilton will win the title if he comes within the fifth place at the Mexican Grand Prix.
“The pity was there were a couple of races where we were just not there to fight,” Vettel added.
“I would have loved to even be on three wheels in those races, but they obviously got away from us and we were just sitting on the sidelines.
“That was bitter. In the end, it made a big difference, [but] we are now where we are – we still have a chance, we want to win the last three races and I think we can.
“We have proven probably everybody wrong – there was a lot of talk in the winter about Mercedes, who were favourites, a lot of talk about Red Bull, but not so much about Ferrari.
“Overall the team has been incredible to be where we are now. No one expected us to be that strong, so there were a lot of positives.”
Considering Arrivabene’s contributions to the resurgence of Ferrari as a viable rival to Mercedes, he is the best driver to lead the team.