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Motor racing - Marchionne writes off Ferrari's season of failure

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FCA Chief Executive and Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne speaks during an interview at the New York Stock Exchange October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files
FCA Chief Executive and Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne speaks during an interview at the New York Stock Exchange October 21, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files

By Alan Baldwin

MONZA, Italy (Reuters) - Ferrari have failed to meet their Formula One targets this season and the focus is now on winning in 2017, president Sergio Marchionne said on Saturday.

Mobbed by reporters and television crews on his arrival at Ferrari's home Italian Grand Prix, the Fiat Chrysler chief executive recognised the glamour team had fallen short.

"I think we failed the targets, I don’t think there’s a doubt in my mind," he said.

"It’s no use putting sweeteners on the stuff, the car isn’t there and I don’t think we developed it. I think we started well in Australia, I think that we failed in developing the car during the season which is due to a variety of reasons."

Ferrari, who won three races in 2015 with Germany's Sebastian Vettel, have drawn a blank with champions Mercedes winning 12 of the 13 rounds so far and Red Bull the other.

Red Bull have taken second place from Ferrari in the constructors' championship, but Marchionne expressed confidence in recent leadership changes.

"I feel quite comfortable that this team are quite capable of turning the fate of the 'scuderia' around. Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of season left," he said.

"Let them finish the season, I think we’ll do the best we can for the rest of ’16 and the fight starts in 2017 with the first race."

Ferrari, who have brought an engine upgrade to high-speed Monza, parted with technical head James Allison in July and replaced him with Mattia Binotto.

Allison, who had worked at Maranello under technical director Ross Brawn during the Michael Schumacher years, had been seen as the man to turn around the team's fortunes.

His wife died suddenly of meningitis earlier in the year, however, and he was reported to have wanted to move back to Britain to be with his children.

"We keep on focusing on a single individual as being the answer to all these problems. James was a great technician and I think he had the variety of skills that certainly were relevant for parts of the car," said Marchionne.

"He was not a power unit guy and never had been. Mattia is, and I think he’s done a tremendous job in terms of bringing the power unit from where it was at the end of ‘14 to where we are today.

"I think we have huge talent inside the structure today. Other than particular plug-ins of people, I would not be looking for the great hero to come in and turn this thing around. The skill level inside the scuderia is huge, let them work."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Rex Gowar)


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