Ferrari underperformed during the first three Grand Prix weekends of 2023 and the Italian media is mounting pressure on the team and new team boss Frédéric Vasseur. However, according to Pedro de la Rosa and Rob Smedley, who both have a past with the Italian racing team, this is quite normal at Ferrari. In the F1 Nation podcast, the duo talk about their own experiences with the Italian media and have a tip for the Ferrari team boss.
It is not surprising that the statements of the Italian media can have a considerable influence on Ferrari. When the team performs poorly, the media rarely holds back. “The media is almost part of the team. The power of the Italian media goes hand in hand with the spirit of the team. If you have a good race, they will write brilliant things about you. And if things go a bit less, you get a situation like now with Elkann, who says that Ferrari needs to wake up. That really becomes a thing within the team’, explains Smedley.
‘On Monday we received a summary of what had been written’
Smedley knows from his own experience how difficult it can be to deal with criticism from the Italian media. ‘It can be a distraction and it depends on the extent to which Fred (Vasseur, ed.) Can protect the team against it. When I was at Ferrari, every Monday morning we got a summary of what had been written. I think Ross Brawn finally got rid of it because it’s a distraction.’
De la Rosa has a similar experience to Smedley. ‘I remember seeing the Italian magazine on the desk in Stefano’s (Domenicali, ed.) office when I went to the factory on Monday morning, after we had a bad result. I realized we were in trouble. That’s Ferrari, it’s a difficult team with enormous pressure from the press,” said the Spaniard.
Smedley on media pressure: ‘Towards the end I let it go’
The pressure from the Italian media can therefore be extremely intense for Ferrari employees, including Smedley. “Towards the end I just let it go. But when I first came there, I read everything about me. After two years you realize it’s just a cycle. Sometimes they are positive and sometimes they are negative. You have to put it aside and push it to the background,” said the Briton.