'Whatever is needed will be done' - Mattiacci
New Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci has vowed to do whatever is necessary to bring his team back to winning ways in the shortest possible timeframe.
Mattiacci was offered the job just one week ago and made his first public appearance as team principal on Friday in the Shanghai paddock. After Ferrari's slow start to the season he faces a considerable challenge turning things around, but made clear he is willing to poach new engineers and make changes if they will bring a significant improvement.
"A team is made first of people," he said. "With the chairman [Luca di Montezemolo] I discussed and we made a first report and clearly whatever is needed we will do, even going to the [employment] market. But we will go with a clear idea that it is not just for the sake of doing shopping, but finding someone who will bring extreme added value to a team that all of us believe is one of the highest level teams in Formula One. That's the philosophy at the moment. Whatever is needed will be done.
"I'm not a great believer in the word strategy. I think every day you need to set an improvement. When you arrive you first look for what is good and in this team there is a lot of talent. I am working with Mr Montezemolo in making an assessment to see what will be needed but at this moment in time I cannot make a call on what will be needed in this regard.
"I'm not an engineer, but we have 800 people that are working to make the car faster and we have the best talented engineers. For me, it is to get the highest motivation as possible and to define a certain project management. It's not me that is going to give one extra second to the car, it is the engineers that work for us."
Critics of Mattiacci have suggested he does not have the knowledge of F1 to lead Ferrari, but he insisted he is not daunted by the task.
"It is very motivating for me. I accept it because sometimes you can bring a new perspective when looking at issues and opportunities. The fact is I need to prove that I am at the level of Ferrari first and the level of Formula One, so you see in front of you an extremely motivated person.
"I love racing, I race myself in my spare time. I spend probably 20 or 22 weekends at the track last year and I attended the 24 hours of Daytona sleeping at the track and trying to learn as much as I could. It's not Formula One, but I love racing, I love continuous improvement, challenging a team to give a better car and get as much as we can from the track."
He explained he had spent the last week flying New York - where he was working as president of Ferrari North America - to Maranello for meetings with Montezemolo and ex-team principal Stefano Domenicali before heading to China for this weekend's race.
"I received a call at 5:58 on Friday morning and the chairman Montezemolo was on the phone and told me 'this is my idea'. I thought that April fool was already 15 days earlier so in the second or third minutes of the discussion I understood he was serious, and I understood that because there was already a ticket ready to go from New York to Milan in three hours. I arrived on Saturday morning in Maranello at the Fiorano track."
Unsurprisingly, Mattiacci said Ferrari was not yet ready to throw in the towel this year.
"I don't think we are going to give up. Our goal is to close the gap as much as we can with the leaders and at the moment that is Mercedes. There are many variables that can influence a lap that can influence a race and a championship. It's still very early to make decisions but our goal is to close the gap as soon as possible with Mercedes. It's not an easy task, not an easy task."