- Domenicali has spent time with Audi, on the FIA board, and with Lamborghini (above) since his departure from Ferrari. (Credit: Laurine Paumard, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0)

STEFANO DOMENICALI - 23 SECONDS TO GLORY

The Italian delivered what, to date, is Ferrari's last title. He now becomes one of Formula One's key cogs.

4w ago

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When Felipe Massa took the chequered flag at Interlagos in 2008, he thought he'd finally achieved a lifelong dream of winning the World Drivers' Championship.

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali would have surely, for a moment, thought the same.

It took 23 seconds of racing for both men's hopes to be dashed, as McLaren's Lewis Hamilton took the fifth place he needed to win the title by passing Timo Glock at the final corner.

Ferrari took eight wins in what was Domenicali's first season in his new role, having been sporting director from 2001 to 2007, and despite Massa missing out, the team did secure the Constructors' Championship.

The Scuderia would be less dominant at the beginning of 2009, however, with major changes being made to Formula One's sporting regulations.

The main changes were made aerodynamically, with a reduction in downforce caused by lower and wider front wings. The position of the diffuser was changed, and slick tyres were reintroduced for the first time in 11 years.

Four teams - McLaren, Renault, BMW and Ferrari - also fitted the new KERS system to their car, which harvested energy under braking and allowed for a 80hp boost to be applied by each driver over the course of one lap.

It was also a challenge for many constructors because of the financial crisis of the time. Domenicali recognised the challenges early, kept a calm head and guided Ferrari through.

Speaking at the launch of the F60 car in 2009 (via F1Technical), the Italian said: "The goals, the structures and the teams realities are different, but we're all working for the good of all; and that is why the teams are very united, which is a new element in this sport, considering that we are in a very particular period.

"Nobody wants to oppose the FIA, but there is a constructive logic, where everybody wants to have a strong and constructive voice, because we live Formula 1."

Ferrari struggled for pace in the early rounds of 2009, the F60 recording only a solitary race victory. (Credit: Morio, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Ferrari struggled for pace in the early rounds of 2009, the F60 recording only a solitary race victory. (Credit: Morio, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Ferrari, relative to other challengers such as Brawn GP and Red Bull, took time to adjust to the rule changes, and Kimi Raikkonen secured their only win of the season at Spa-Francorchamps. The Finn would leave the sport at the end of the year, and took a two-year sabbatical from F1.

In his place came Fernando Alonso. The two-time world champion hadn't come to Maranello simply to compete - he was there to add more titles to his name.

He won 11 races with the Scuderia before departing in 2014, but that third world title narrowly eluded him. Relations between Alonso and Domenicali, however, have remained positive, with Domenicali stating that there was little difference between the Spaniard and Michael Schumacher.

Alonso had just come off the back of three second-place championship finishes in the last four seasons when Ferrari began their pre-season programme in 2014. Optimism quickly changed to pessimism, however, when the team were uncompetitive in testing after struggling to adapt to the new turbo hybrid engine regulations.

Things came to a head in April, when president Luca Di Montezemelo asked Domenicali to sack the head of the engine department. Domenicali refused, and resigned from his post that month. He was replaced by Marco Mattiacci, and Ferrari did not win a race that season.

Later that year, Luca Marmorini, who was director of engine and electronics at Ferrari, also stepped down. Mattia Binotto would step in as his replacement.

Speaking about his reasons for quitting the Prancing Horse, Domenicali explained in a public statement: "As boss, I take responsibility - as I always have - for the situation we are going through.

"This decision has been taken with the aim of doing something to shake things up."

Despite leaving F1 mid-season, the Italian was quickly installed as a part of the Audi setup later in 2014, before taking on the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) role at Lamborghini two years later.

He has also acted as head of the FIA's Single Seater commission for six years, and played a vital role in reshaping the junior pyramids and providing a clearer pathway for younger drivers to reach F1 through F2 and F3.

The Italian has played an important role in the running of F1 in recent years. (Credit: Sven Mandel, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Italian has played an important role in the running of F1 in recent years. (Credit: Sven Mandel, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Domenicali has also helped the sport make huge strides in terms of safety, with his input being key in implementing the use of the halo device across the whole of the FIA Single Seater pyramid.

He now takes over as F1's CEO, a role that has been performed exceptionally well by the current incumbent, Chase Carey.

Not only has the American set up a 17-race calendar in 2020, when it was thought several months ago that completing a World Championship safely would be a challenge, but he has also signed off on a new Concorde Agreement that will see all 10 teams commit to the sport for the next five years.

With his prior knowledge of both F1 and the business world, you can only assume that Domenicali will follow in his predecessor's footsteps and guide the sport through what will be an important period with the new 2022 regulations arriving.

The Italian also has an eye on how he can improve F1 at the same time, and sees the current crisis caused by the pandemic as a way for the sport to change how it operates.

Talking to Motorsport.com earlier this year, Domenicali said: "I see this as an opportunity for the motorsport industry to reshape.

"There's no doubt that motorsport will be an essential part into the future, but short term we need to revisit the level of investment and maybe the level of technology and the number of championships."

Domenicali's track record shows that he has the ability to reshape and improve whatever brand he is in charge of. The 55-year-old looks, certainly from the outside looking in, the ideal choice to take F1 into a bright new future.

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Comments (2)

  • I've only seen him in BBC's season reviews, cos I only started following F1 in 2015. Looks like a good bloke, and could be great at the top of F1.

      1 month ago
    • Yeah think he's a popular figure around the paddock. Listened to a few of his interviews & he definitely has some bright ideas for the future

        1 month ago

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