Domenicali nearly quit over Abu Dhabi error

2011 F1 season

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Sergio Marchionne, Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari, 2010

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said he almost quit after Fernando Alonso missed out on the drivers’ title last year.

But Domenicali said he still thinks he’s the “right person” to lead Ferrari despite the strategy error in Abu Dhabi which harmed Alonso’s chances.

In an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica he said:

After Abu Dhabi I raised the issue personally. I asked whether it was right or not that I stayed. […]

But I reached the conclusion that resigning would be a mistake. I know the team and I know that I am the right person to capitalise on all we have sown in these months.

From the point of view of the methodology, at Maranello, we have changed almost everything and I am sure we will soon see the results of a lot of work.
Stefano Domenicali

Looking ahead to 2011, he expects the changes to the cars – such as the moveable rear wings – to have a significant effect:

On the track we should have to get used to a small revolution, it will no longer be automatic that the person who starts from pole position will have a clear road to the victory. Strategy will be important.
Stefano Domenicali

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Keith Collantine
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33 comments on “Domenicali nearly quit over Abu Dhabi error”

  1. I think it is difficult to compare the job Domenicali has done with Todt’s reign.

    Where Todt had Brawn, Schumacher and Byrne to work with, Domenicali has not had even a lead driver consistently, let alone big name designers and technicians.

    Onto the subject of him resigning, I think he should stay. He hasn’t screwed up majorly yet, and has just been another victim of Adrian Newey and Ross Brawn!

    1. He just had the blessings of the FIA, but didn’t own the FIA like Todt, Brawn and Schumacher did.

      We gotta wait until next season to see how well Stefano does. But I’m pretty glad he didn’t quit.

      1. Err, people seem to consistantly forget how often Bennetton and Ferrari were punished by the FIA during that era, sometimes unfairly.

    2. He lost two titles at the final race (2008 & 2010) in three years, although his part in it is doubtful.

  2. Changing almost everything seems a lot, after one (big) mistake?
    In my view, except Abu Dahbi, they did well on tactics, but had some bad luck with safetcars this year. Or is my mind delluding me?

    Maybe Domenicali just wanted to assure the Italian public, that a mistake like this one doesn’t happen again. That’s of course also entirely possible.

    Still, good for him to raise the inevitable subject of resiging.

    1. I don’t think it is necessary to quit because of a (big) mistake.

      On the other hand this sort of proves the feeling I had for a long time: he might not be the right person to lead the team. Maybe my view is a bit old fashioned, but I believe the team principal should be a strong, convincing leader. Domenicali isn’t striking me as any of those things and considering to leave isn’t a sign of strength and confidence either. Someone like Brawn for example wouldn’t quit, he would be ashamed he made such a mistae and then work on making sure mistakes like that can not happen again. Maybe he can grow into a strong position but at the moment I can’t really see that happen.

      Maybe I’m a bit harsh, after a Ferrari didn’t do that badly. Can’t wait for next season.

      1. For the record: I do not think he has to resign, I merely tried to point out that in the constant media frenzy which is Italy-Ferrari, it is a smart move to discuss this yourself and break this to the media by yourself.

    2. It felt like there was a lot wrong inside Ferrari. They were often behind in R&D and then had to catch up. In the past they were the ones pushing out new innovative technologies, but for a few years now they have lacked any ingenuity. The changes might be aimed partly at correcting that.

    3. Actually their biggest misses last year were with the F-duct focus going amiss and then Hockenheim before they messed up in Abu Dhabi as a team.
      Abu Dhabi is hardly a reason to step down, but I would love it if he actually felt bad enough towards Massa about the German GP to quit.

  3. Sounds a bit dramatic!

    These people are employed to endure the hard times. I don’t like people resigning.

  4. jimscreechy (@)
    4th January 2011, 13:29

    I quite like him and am glad he didn’t quit. He is one of the more entertaining and most affable managers on the grid. I also think he’s done a good job at Ferrari ‘post Todt’. I’m not a Ferrari fan, but really like his style of management and media handling.

  5. I think Stefano has done a good job in terms of producing a car which nearly delivered a drivers championship. He’s very accessible to the media and comes across in a personable way. It was ultimately his call on strategy in Abu Dhabi, but if his strategists are telling him it is the best method, and would have simulations and data to back it up, then it would be very difficult for him to over-rule this. It was the wrong call, but no different to McLaren with Lewis

  6. Domenicali: Three seasons, no Drivers’ Championships, one Constructors’ Championship. Disastrous 2009 season. Is this “capitalising” the huge potential that Ferrari has?

    Sure, it took Todt six seasons before the first Constructors’ Championship at Ferrari and seven seasons before the first Drivers’ Championship, but when he joined the team, Ferrari was a joke. When Domenicali was appointed the team principle of Ferrari, the team had just won Drivers’ Championship.

    I know it’s not all about Domenicali, but something has to be changed if things don’t work.

    1. When he joined Ferrari I didn’t think he was “man” enough for the job. They’d lucked into Raikonnen’s championship because of Hamilton/Alonso’s bickering, but he didn’t seem to have the gravitas to push the team forward (I see similar problems in another formerly great team whose cars start FW…)

      Btu he’s grown into it and has generally done a good job this year – anyone can make a mistake (alebit wahoo, it was a whopper). They’ll be back next year…

      1. how is winning more races than Alonso or Hamilton luck? if anything, Hamilon or Alonso would have lucked into it because of Kimi’s TWO ENGINE DNFS.

        just like if Alonso won this year, it would have been LUCK because of Vettels DNFS.

  7. The pressure must be building for Ferrari at the moment. They may be almost ever present front runners, but they have only won a solitary drivers title since 2004. Of course, that’s nothing compared to their 80’s/ 90’s barren run, but it’s not what you’d expect from F1’s biggest team

    1. The pressure too must be building for Mclaren at the moment. They may be almost ever present front runners, but they have only won a solitary drivers title since 1999. Of course, that’s nothing compared to their late 70′s/ mid 90′s barren run, but it’s not what you’d expect from F1′s second biggest team.

      1. But their title win is more recent – they last won in 2008.

      2. Stealing my name, huh. But you make a good point Mr Imposter. McLaren have only won 4 titles full stop since 1991

  8. This isn’t the first time he’s considered to retire his seat (2008 was the first time).

    Anyway, I think that he should retire and leave the role to a more competent player/boss.

    The famous and legendary Dream Team (Schumi/Todt/Brawn/Byrne/Simon…) left Domenicali a winning team in 2007/2008, but because of his ineptitude the Ferrari failed to win the WDT in 2008 and the double title in 2010. In 2009 it was also Domenicali’s fault that Ferrari lost 3rd place to McM!

    One outrage followed by another. One dissapointment after another! As a hardcore Ferrari fan, I just can’t take it anymore. The man must GO!!!!!

    1. I do think you overreact there Commendatore. In 2007 the Ferrari took the title with Kimi (in his first season there), in 2008 both Ferrari drivers were close to the title and they still got the constructors title.
      They really messed up in 2009 (just like McLaren) with KERS focus and surely it did not help to miss 1 driver for half of the season. In 2010 Ferrari was back in the mix.

      I suppose you could do a lot worse than that.

      1. Todt was still team principal in 2007 when Ferrari won both championships.

  9. I think that everyone concedes it was a huge error in hindsight. But, in the heat of the moment how many others could claim to not react in the same vein. Let’s not forgot that Alonso was championship leader going into Webber’s pit stop and Webber was his closest rival. If Ferrari had covered Hamilton’s pit stop I would have been far more critical. At the end of the day it was one small error over the course of half a season where Red Bull had made plenty.

    I have complete faith in Domenicali and the transition from Todt’s reign to his has been coherent. His record still remains as lost by a point in 2008 and a similarly small margin in 2010. This is highly respectable given the standard of competition.

    If anyone feels he should resign then so must Whitmarsh and if Red Bull had failed then so should Horner and Newey. That suggestion is outlandish in the extreme!

  10. I don’t think that Stefano is that strong a leader really; his impulse was to quit, then despite all the calls for calm Ferrari blinked first in Abu Dhabi, instead of taking charge at Germany he let Rob deliver the message to Felipe and interfere with their relationship which has to be based on trust, after that happened the team basically hid behind Felipe although admittedly they couldn’t really take responsibility and last season all we heard was how much the team needed a ‘lead’ driver which isn’t you hear the other teams say that often. although Fernando may be a great man to give direction from the cockpit I do wonder if all that reflects on Stefano.

    I like Stefano and he has a huge amount of pressure on his shoulders because he is in charge of Ferrari but I’m still not sold on his strength and this just reinforces that. I do think he could win many titles with the red outfit though andhe should give himself a break because a title isn’t won or lost by one strategy call it’s all the parts of the season that contribute and they actually did a great job to at least finish ahead of one of the RB6 drivers in the standings.

    1. I was thinking the reaction to Abu Dabhi was way overblown, it a big mistake but it didn’t lose Alonso the title anymore than dropped points in Monaco, Silverstone and Valencia.

      But I have to say you do make a persuasive argument about his leadership, it probably is weaker than it should be but I don’t think overhauling the team as a reaction to Abu Dahbi would be the right thing to do

  11. I think the real significance of this is that Stefano feels the need to speak out on the matter. Clearly the ill-feeling amongst certain groups in Italy over the Abu Dhabi error hasn’t gone away and pressure is being applied from hidden sources.

  12. Ferrari have lost their edge because of their desire to do without British engineering talent. The near all-Italian dream team haven’t delivered, with the resources at hand, what they expected. Hence the recruitment of Pat Fry to try to inject some fresh ideas – and McLaren tech! – into the mix. The Brawn BG001 could have been a Ferrari.

  13. Domenicali leaving the leave would have done more harm than good. Sure, Ferrari blew it – but they need leadership if they want to make amends in 2011. Domenicali falling on his sword would have done nothing but create a vaccuum at the top, one that would need to be filled. And with no obvious replacement on hand, Ferrari would have been at the mercy of the wind.

  14. mark in florida (@)
    5th January 2011, 4:21

    Maybe it’s just karma.Ferrari tried to get one by but in the end Red Bull still clinched.Luca ran Schumi off the team and now another one is gone.[Chris]

    1. Agreed. Ferrari ditched Schumi and Ross and frustrated Todt too left the team. Now they are reaping their well deserved reward. Without the big names Ferrari looks like a spent force. Only their mega budget is saving the face i think.

  15. Ferrari lune up changed too often

    Schumacher massa
    Raikkonen. Massa
    Raikkonen. Massa
    Raikonnen Massa
    Raikkonen. Badoer
    Raikkonen. Fisichella
    Alonso. Massa

  16. “I thought about leaving but I decided not to.”

    Hmmm, how heroic of you.
    Of course, this is all just PR to appease the angry tifosi, I don’t think anyone can be blamed for the pitstop in Abu Dhabi, It very well could have turned into a genius stratagem. It’s the opposite of Kamui’s overtaking, That could have gone very, very wrong. But as it didn’t, He’s widely thought of as a fantastic driver.

  17. Domenicali nearly quit he says?

    I heard that before. Please, just quit already and be done with it.

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