Domenicali becomes F1 president
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