Former Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali is set to replace Chase Carey as CEO of Formula 1 it has been revealed.
Domenicali, who led Ferrari between 2008 and 2014, oversaw their last title win, steering the Scuderia to the World Constructor’s title in his first season at the helm, only narrowly missing out on the driver’s title to boot, with Lewis Hamilton’s last gasp win at Interlagos.
However, after a poor start to the 2014 Formula 1 season, he was nudged out – like countless other Ferrari bosses – to be replaced by Marco Mattiaci, who lasted six months, before he too was replaced by Maurizio Arrivabene.
Upon leaving Ferrari, Domenicali joined Audi as VP of new business initiatives, before moving to VW sister company Lamborghini as CEO in 2016.
Domenicali joins fellow ex-Ferrari Team Principals Jean Todt (president of the FIA) and Ross Brawn (MD of Formula 1) in key F1 positions – something that has caused a degree of consternation among F1 fans, already suspicious of Ferrari’s relationship with F1’s powers that be.
But Domenicali is a Formula 1 man – he joined Ferrari in 1992 straight from University, & held a senior position in their F1 outfit for 18 years from 1996 until 2014 when he was ousted, so he knows the sport inside out.
He takes over from Chase Carey who arrived in F1 with an in-depth knowledge of the media industry but with little experience of Formula 1, later giving the impression of someone who’d been broadsided somewhat by the unique challenges that F1 had in store for him.
As someone with an existing relationship with much of the F1 paddock, the transition between Domenicali and Carey should be as frictionless as is possible.
You’d also think Domenicali will be desperate to avoid the slightest hint of bias towards Ferrari given the obvious scrutiny his every decision will face, something that might even work against Ferrari.
He’s also European and Europe is where Formula 1 grew up. It’s where the majority of its fanbase live (12/20 countries with the highest F1 viewing figures are in Europe), and so hopefully Domenicali will know better than Carey what its core audience is looking for from its racing.
It might also help F1 focus its shift back away from North America – a market it’s been attempting to crack for decades with only moderate success – to Europe, shedding all the horrible Americanisms that have been introduced under Carey’s watch along the way.
(Obviously I’m saying this as a European and said Americanisms might be exactly what the American market is looking for – although with just over 30m people in the US watching F1 in a country ten times that, I doubt it)
Most of all, he seems like a decent bloke.
Good luck Stefano – I hope you can be a real force for good in our sport!