Within hours of Ferrari’s confirmation that Stefano Domenicali has left the team, Mercedes announced its own split with technical director Bob Bell.
Irishman Bell, who worked with Fernando Alonso when the Spaniard won his titles at Renault, only joined Mercedes in 2011, so speculation he might be in line to be Domenicali’s longer-term replacement at Ferrari is obvious.
Domenicali’s immediate replacement is Ferrari North America chief Marco Mattiacci, who although close to Luca di Montezemolo has no experience within the F1 paddock.
It is believed Bell is staying in F1, as he will only officially leave Mercedes at the end of November. This fits with the customary ‘gardening leave’ served by team personnel when they switch allegiances.
Mercedes said only that he will pursue “new challenges outside the company”.
But while Bell is probably not in the frame at Ferrari, F1 insiders do agree that Mattiacci’s appointment is only temporary.
Autosprint correspondent Cesare Maria Mannucci suggested he will perform only “a transitional role”, perhaps to eventually be replaced by Gerhard Berger.
Tobias Gruner, writing for Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, added: “The Italian rumour mill has been speculating about a return for Ross Brawn.” (GMM)