DECEMBER 20, 2016

Marchionne not predicting 2017 title

Sergio Marchionne says he has learned his lesson and will no longer be making any bold predictions for 2017.

Sergio Marchionne says he has learned his lesson and will no longer be making any bold predictions for 2017.

This year, many commentators said Ferrari was in obvious 'crisis' after the new Ferrari president targeted wins and the title but ultimately finished behind both Mercedes and Red Bull.

"Do not expect proclamations," Marchionne said at Ferrari's Christmas media lunch on Monday.

"Last time I was careless but now I only ask for us to do better than 2016, which does not seem difficult."

But he admits Ferrari will need to do well to hang onto its champion drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, who each might have been a candidate to replace Nico Rosberg at Mercedes if not for their contracts.

"I saw Raikkonen at his best ever, but I don't know if he wants to go beyond 2017," said Marchionne.

"I have not talked about extending the contract with Vettel because it's too early; first he must be comfortable with the car next year," he added.

"Vettel and Mercedes? (Niki) Lauda talks to everyone but in 2017, Seb is with us. I have to give stability to the team but we have to give those who drive for us a great car.

"We'll keep an eye on availability of other drivers from 2018," said Marchionne. "With Seb we have to give him a winning car, otherwise it's useless to discuss the future. He wants to win with us, we know that.

"In return he has to drive with confidence, with more calm and less agitation. Thinking of winning on the track, not engaging in personal battles."

Marchionne also said an F1 foray for Alfa Romeo remains on the cards, which "could become an outlet for our young drivers".

But before those juniors can be boosted into F1 with Alfa, "the brand has to make money with the Giulia and Stelvio (road cars)".

One such junior is 2016 GP2 star and Italian Antonio Giovinazzi, who will be Ferrari's official reserve next year.

But another Ferrari recruit will not be Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe, although Marchionne admits there were talks.

"We were not trying to get him," he said. "There were proposals, but they were not part of our technical development plans. We have an established team and will not change it.

"If we continue to not win, the fault will be mine," said Marchionne.

Finally, Marchionne was asked about new F1 owner Liberty Media's reported plans for a budget cap, saying that while it is "a noble principle", it is "not typical of F1".

"But I think Liberty understands the business in a different way than Bernie (Ecclestone). With all respect for what he has done, we needed the change.

"With Liberty, more attention will be on the public and things will get better," he said.

Ferrari's 2017 car will be launched on a filming day at Fiorano on 24 February.