May 8 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Ferrari is without its sporting director Massimo Rivola in Spain this weekend.
Italy’s La Repubblica claims he was “removed from his duties” during the three-week break between Bahrain and Barcelona.
“Two other team members – the logistics manager and a cook – were suspended,” the newspaper added.
Rivola was reportedly close to Ferrari’s new star driver Sebastian Vettel, so the news is being interpreted as the first sign of trouble under the new Maurizio Arrivabene-led regime.
Unofficial Ferrari sources are referring to a “holiday” for Rivola, or an absence due to a “personal problem”.
But other sources indicate the split is much more serious than that.
Ferrari’s press office is not commenting.
“Rivola is not present in Spain for personal reasons and we respect his privacy,” La Gazzetta dello Sport quoted a spokesman as saying.
Germany’s Bild newspaper said Rivola, who joined as sporting director in 2009 and earlier worked with Vettel at Toro Rosso, has been “dismissed”.
The publication added: “(Rivola) has previously been linked with a move to McLaren.”
And Vettel commented: “I think there are personal reasons (for Rivola’s absence).
“Lunch was delicious today anyway,” the German driver joked, referring also to the reported absence of the cook.