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Nigel Stepney and Ferrari

Some things make no sense to me. While Kimi Raikkonen is telling us how like a happy family the Ferrari team is, technical manager Nigel Stepney reveals to Autosport that he’s dissatisfied with recent personnel changes and wants to take a break until Ross Brawn returns.

Ferrari

The family product

Ignoring the fact that this is more evidence of trouble brewing at Ferrari, it still seems a strange thing for Stepney to go public on such matters. Presumably he has told his employers how he feels but, since he talks only of wanting to take a sabbatical rather than announcing a done deal, it must be that he still awaits an answer from them. Is this Stepney’s way of getting his bosses to make a quick decision?

The whole interview is very revealing of Ferrari’s internal politics. From what Stepney says about wanting to move his career forward, it is clear that he was hoping to be promoted into a position that someone else has taken instead. To have waited until now to reveal his thoughts, weeks after the changes were made, Stepney must have tried the new arrangement and decided that he cannot work with it.

Ross Brawn’s return is held up as the solution to the problem, with Stepney expecting that he would move up to a senior role at that time. But the fact that he cannot grit his teeth and bear it for a year means that things must be very bad for him indeed. Which doesn’t sound like a happy family to me.

Perhaps he has realized that there is no guarantee that Brawn will become team principal when he returns. By the end of this year, the team will be very different from the one Brawn left and he may not be as welcome to some as everyone assumes. It’s only a guess but the changes made have a distinct “Italianization” feel to them. That must emanate from FIAT and would go with Montezemolo’s increasing interest in and influence over the team.

Even Stepney’s willingness to consider going to another team is odd if his hope is that things will improve when Brawn returns. If Stepney moves now, he can hardly expect to return to Ferrari at the end of the year; any team that employs him would want him for more than a year and it is unlikely that Ferrari would welcome him back with open arms after such a desertion.

Maybe I am reading too much into all this. Perhaps everything has already been agreed and this interview is merely preparation for an announcement. But, if so, it still looks like a weird way to go about things, you must admit.

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