STEFANO DOMENICALI – A BRIEF PROFILE OF THE NEW MAN AT THE TOP OF F1
So, there will be a changing of the guard at the top of the Blue Riband of motorsport making it an all ex-Ferrari team at the top of Formula 1 and the FIA. Stefano Domenicali joins the F1 senior management as President and CEO in January replacing Chase Carey who moves into a non-executive chairman role.
There has been debate from some quarters regarding the line-up of Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, and Domenicali occupying all the key seats at the top of premier motorsport, but the F1 paddock has been keen to support the appointment and the team that will head up the sport out of the COVID pandemic (hopefully sooner rather than later) in 2021. It’s also noted that Todt’s third term with the FIA is ending in 2021 and he is likely to also retire from the role.
Carey was installed as the CEO of F1 after Liberty Media’s takeover of the sport in 2017, replacing Bernie Ecclestone. Its suspected that Carey had this move in mind for some time and wanted to make the announcement of his retirement after the completion of F1’s new Concorde Agreement which was signed by the teams a few weeks ago binding them to the championship from 2021 to 2025 and determining prize money and its system of governance.
Following the announcement Carey released a statement saying, “It has been an honour to lead Formula 1, a truly global sport with a storied past over the last seventy years. 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.
I’m confident that we’ve built the strong foundation for the business to grow over the long term.” We will be revisiting Chase Carey and his legacy in a follow up feature.
Todt was keen to comment on Carey’s retirement tweeting that, “Chase Carey has done a great job for @F1 since 2017 and I am confident that he will continue in his new role as non-executive Chairman…”
Others also lined up to support Domenicali in what seems to be a universally welcome appointment.
Lewis Hamilton said he thought the appointment was “amazing”, adding, “I know Stefano really well. He’s one of the nicest guys that I know. I don’t think they could have really chosen someone better, to be honest, to replace some big shoes of Chase, who has done an amazing job and has always had such a great approach. Stefano has got a great heart. He’s got a good family and good morals. The future’s positive.”
Christian Horner commented, “He’s a gentleman, he’s a racer. We obviously raced against him when he was team principal at Ferrari. He knows the business, he understands the sport and it’s fantastic that he’s getting involved.”
Comments from other team principles and drivers up and down the grid were equally positive.
Domenicali returns to F1 after a six-year absence having spent the last four years running the Lamborghini car company.
As Ferrari team principle between 2008 and 2014 he was the last to win a constructors world title in 2008.
Domenicali has always been close to Formula 1, having been born in Imola and living in Monza, and at 55 is still a young man in F1 senior management terms.
He first got involved in the sport after leaving university in 1991 and joined Ferrari. As a graduate in business administration and seen as a high flyer in the organisation, he started work in the finance department before being appointed as race director at Mugello working on a number of racing series. In 1995 he moved to a role hiring and firing in Ferrari’s sporting department and also managed sponsor relationships.
It’s clear the management at Ferrari had plans for him as all these roles gave him first-hand experience preparing him for the top jobs at the Scuderia and in 1996 he was promoted to Team Manager.
He remained in the role until January 2001 and after holding the fort as head of team logistics he became the team’s Sporting Director in 2002.
On 12 November 2007 he was appointed as Director of the Ferrari Formula 1 team and replaced Todt as Team Principle in 2008.
During his tenure as Team Principle its widely accepted that he overachieved keeping Ferrari competitive with a series of cars that were far from the best on the grid, and almost leading Fernando Alonso to the title in 2012.
Domenicali resigned from Ferrari in 2014. He joined Audi shortly after and was appointed CEO of Lamborghini in 2016 following Stephan Winkelmann’s departure for Audi Sport.
“I am thrilled to join the Formula 1 organisation, a sport that has always been part of my life,” said the 55-year-old 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.”
At JDC we look forward to seeing the further evolution of Formula 1 under his stewardship.