In light of the latest rumours concerning Ferrari's future, we are going to contrast two notorious F1 technical structures belonging to our sport's most long-running outfits.
McLaren is pulling away from its old-fashioned matrix structure, as Zak Brown envisioned the urge of changing direction and pulling the plug on their horizontally oriented engineering department. The British outfit is eager to bounce back after years spent swallowing bitter bites, including its pride, and in order to fulfill such purpose, two of its main engineering figures have been dropped. Therefore, McLaren is moving towards a more vertical sort of structure, condensing more responsibilities and decisional power in one person, which is most likely to be James Key. Being part of the normal cycle of F1 teams, McLaren needs to abandon the so-called no-blame culture to shift all the pressure on one person, which has to be the main source of guidelines and knowledge to rebuild the team.
The Woking-based outfit is on a heavy 6-season win drought, meaning that it has not felt the type of pressure all top teams are feeling at the moment, and I am sure they would be willing to lend some to other teams. Ferrari certainly stands for the most representative example. In fact, its inflexible vertical structure is deeply rooted in the team’s culture and internal politics.
The chief technical officer and the team principal are highly exposed to the whole world, as they are primarily linked to the team's results and achievements. Mattia Binotto undertook the role of chief technical officer at a rather complicated stage, as he was suddenly tasked with filling the gaps left by Allison and all the previous key engineering figures. Furthermore, the Italian media tend to raise the amount of pressure on the shoulders of the men in charge of Ferrari, as if their role implied sort of a moral obligation towards the Italian fanbase and, more extensively, towards the entire population. Because of that, all the faults and blames are likely to be thrown at the chief technical officer himself or, in case of debatable decisions and calls, at the team principal.
Which one is better? The answer to this question is extremely hard to find, but any structure that turns out to work properly is the best one for the team. However, pressure undoubtedly has to play a significant role in the job description of such high-profile positions. Now that Ferrari is set for major leadership changes, as Arrivabene has been tipped as a potential CEO of Juventus, Mattia Binotto would eventually be stepping up as team principal and replaced by Laurent Mekies, if everything complies with the vision of Ferrari’s new president. Keeping a Philip Morris representative, namely Arrivabene, might be priority but shocking changes, as rumoured, could be incoming.