Domeni­cali be­comes F1 pres­i­dent

Autosport (UK) - - CONTENT - LUKE SMITH

Ex-fer­rari team prin­ci­pal Ste­fano Domeni­cali will be­come the new CEO and pres­i­dent of Formula 1 in Jan­uary, tak­ing over from ex­ist­ing chief Chase Carey. The Ital­ian was for­mally an­nounced by F1 as Carey’s re­place­ment at last week­end’s Rus­sian Grand Prix.

“I am thrilled to join the Formula 1 or­gan­i­sa­tion, a sport that has al­ways been part of my life,” said Domeni­cali. “I’ve re­mained con­nected to the sport through my work with the Sin­gle Seater Com­mis­sion at the FIA and I look for­ward to con­nect­ing with the teams, pro­mot­ers, spon­sors and many part­ners in Formula 1 as we con­tinue to drive the busi­ness ahead.”

Domeni­cali spent more than 20 years with Fer­rari, serv­ing as its F1 sport­ing di­rec­tor dur­ing Michael Schu­macher’s dom­i­na­tion in the early 2000s be­fore step­ping up as team prin­ci­pal in 2008. He re­signed three races into the 2014 sea­son, tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for Fer­rari’s poor start to the year and strug­gles with the new tur­bocharged V6 hy­brid power units.

Domeni­cali was not out of work for long. He took up a role at Audi in Novem­ber 2014, and be­came its vi­cepres­i­dent of new busi­ness ini­tia­tives. He later moved to sis­ter VW Group com­pany Lam­borgh­ini in 2016 as CEO, and helped turn around the for­tunes of the Ital­ian mar­que, which de­liv­ered record sales last year.

In tan­dem with his roles out­side of mo­tor­sport, Domeni­cali has served as the pres­i­dent of the FIA’S Sin­gle Seater Com­mis­sion since 2014. In this role, he over­saw a re­struc­tur­ing of the ju­nior lad­der in mo­tor­sport. The F1-sup­port­ing GP2 Series was re­branded as FIA Formula 2, while the old FIA Formula 3 Euro­pean Cham­pi­onship was axed, with the FIA F3 name at­tached to what was for­merly GP3. He was also re­spon­si­ble for the in­tro­duc­tion of the FIA’S su­per­li­cence points sys­tem.

The an­nounce­ment of Domeni­cali won wide­spread praise through­out the F1 pad­dock, with many cit­ing his suc­cess both on the track and in the board­room dur­ing his ca­reer, as well as his friendly char­ac­ter and man­age­ment style.

“He’s one of the good guys, hav­ing com­peted against him when he was the team prin­ci­pal of Fer­rari,” said Red Bull team prin­ci­pal Chris­tian Horner. “He had a lot of in­tegrity, he was a racer, a com­peti­tor, he un­der­stands the busi­ness. Ob­vi­ously he spent life in the com­mer­cial world out­side F1 the last few years. He’s done a great job at Lam­borgh­ini, and I think he will be a great as­set to F1.”

Haas F1 chief Gun­ther Steiner said the team would not even ex­ist had it not been for Domeni­cali’s in­put and in­flu­ence dur­ing the early talks to get the Amer­i­can squad on the grid. “With­out Ste­fano, Haas F1 wouldn’t be here,” said Steiner. “In the be­gin­ning when I tried to put this to­gether, the main per­son I spoke to [at Fer­rari] was Ste­fano, and he was the guy that be­lieved that this was doable. He helped a lot and he be­lieved in the model we cre­ated, and he sup­ported it. So I think he un­der­stands the sport very well.”

Fol­low­ing a re­cent bat­tle against us­ing re­versed-grid for­mats, Mercedes team prin­ci­pal Toto Wolff hopes that Domeni­cali will stick to F1’s tra­di­tions and avoid any gim­micks dur­ing his ten­ure. “I think sport comes first,” said Wolff. “He’s go­ing to stay away from,

in my opin­ion, ar­ti­fi­cial things. He’s a purist, but equally un­der­stands that you need to keep your spec­ta­tors and your au­di­ences in­ter­ested. That bal­ance is re­ally com­pli­cated to have right, and

I think he will get that right.”

Six-time world cham­pion Lewis Hamil­ton called Domeni­cali’s ap­point­ment “amaz­ing”, be­liev­ing he is the per­fect re­place­ment for Carey. “I know Ste­fano re­ally well – he’s one of the nicest guys I know,” said Hamil­ton. “I don’t think they could have re­ally cho­sen some­one bet­ter to re­place some big shoes with Chase, who has done an amaz­ing job and has al­ways had such a great ap­proach. I think Ste­fano has got a great heart, good fam­ily and good morals, so the fu­ture is pos­i­tive.”

Carey will stay on as CEO un­til the end of this year to as­sist the tran­si­tion to Domeni­cali, who of­fi­cially starts in his new role on 1 Jan­uary. Carey will re­main part of F1’s se­nior man­age­ment, tak­ing up the role of nonex­ec­u­tive chair­man in 2021. He leaves the role fresh off com­plet­ing talks with teams over the new Con­corde Agree­ment that will come into force from 2021, with the fi­nal sig­na­tures be­ing se­cured in Au­gust.

“I’m proud of the team that’s not only nav­i­gated through an im­mensely chal­leng­ing 2020 but re­turned with added pur­pose and de­ter­mi­na­tion in the ar­eas of sus­tain­abil­ity, di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion,” said Carey. “I’m con­fi­dent that we’ve built the strong foun­da­tion for the busi­ness to grow over the long term. It’s been an ad­ven­ture and I’ve en­joyed work­ing with the teams, the FIA and all of our part­ners. I look for­ward to stay­ing in­volved and sup­port­ing Ste­fano as he takes the wheel.”


Domeni­cali’s friend­ship with Schu­macher out­lasted the Ger­man’s time at Fer­rari

Steiner says Haas would not be in F1 with­out Domeni­cali

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