Domenicali: I nearly resigned after Abu Dhabi

Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari General Director celebrates after the race.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Race Day, Monza, Italy, Sunday 12 September 2010.

Stefano Domeincali on the podium after Ferrari's 1-2 at Monza

Jan.03 (PVM) Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has admitted that after the team’s failure in Abu Dhabi he thought of resigning but now believes he is still the right man to lead the team from Maranello.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10 makes a pit stop. Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday 14 November 2010.

Fernando Alonso's ill timed pitstop in Abu Dhabi that ultimately cost Ferrari drivers the title

Fernando Alonso arrived in Abu Dhabi for the 2010 season finale with a nine point lead yet and the Ferrari team managed to lose the championship to Sebastian Vettel due to a blatant strategy error. Yet Domenicali said he never feared being shown the door but admits that he considered resigning his post at the helm Formula 1’s most famous team.

In an interview with La Repubblica he said, “After Abu Dhabi I raised the issue [of resignation] to myself. I wondered if it was right or not, if I stayed. But I came to the conclusion that resigning would be a mistake. I know the team and I think I am the right person to capitalise on all that we have sown in recent months. From an organisational point of view, in Maranello, we have changed almost everything and I am sure we will soon see the results of the hard work.”

Asked if he had any nightmares after the Abu Dhabi, Domenicali relied, “No nightmares. I fell asleep only on Tuesday, two days later.”

(L to R): Luca di Montezemolo (ITA) Ferrari President with Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari General Director. Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday 10 September 2009.

Domenicali with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo

The Ferrari F1 team boss pointed out, “In a position like mine at Ferrari, you have to be ready for anything. Especially if after two years you fail to bring home some results. From this point of view, I always felt a great support from the president of the company and shareholders. And I’ve always worked with the desire to reciprocate this trust. ”

Domenicali also acknowledged, “The bad things [in 2010] were mainly two: the car, not as fast as Red Bull and the mistake of Abu Dhabi.”

He explained, “The mistake was huge and has produced devastating effects. But in a normal race it would be a normal error. Now, you must not jettison everything, even good things, because of that mistake..

However he is set to announce some staff movement within the team, perhaps prompted by the arrival of ex-McLaren man Pat Fry in the squad. “We will be making some changes and will announce these officially very soon,” he said.

Domenicali also explained why the Ferrari F10 was not up to scratch, “The car last year was slower than Red Bull, four tenths in qualifying and a couple of tenths in the race. Now we must attempt to reduce that gap from the first race. To win a championship you need three elements: that the drivers are good and score points, the team does not make mistakes, that a little luck will help you at the right moments. But above all, it takes a good car which allows you to minimise the impact of each of these three elements. ”

Ferrari sporting director Aldo Costa has told the media that the next car will have to be extreme. Domenicali explains, “The 2010 car was conservative because we started the design from scratch as the 2009 car was bad. Now we have a good starting point and the regulation changes are not as big as in 2009, this allows us to make maximum use of the imagination and the search for extreme.”

Ferrari reconvene on the podium (L to R): race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari; Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari General Director; Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari, second. Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, German Grand Prix, Race, Hockenheim, Germany, Sunday 25 July 2010.

Domenicali with Alonso and Massa on the German GP podium

The Ferrari team principal defended Felipe Massa’s mediocre season with the team and is convinced the Brazilian has made a full recovery from his traumatic, life threatening, freak accident during qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian GP.

Domenicali said, “We have made all required inspections. Felipe is a race driver and a man perfectly intact. I am sure we will see a great Massa in 2011 because he knows that can not afford another season like 2010.”

Predicting what lies ahead this year the Italian said, “2010 was a war-like world championship and 2011 will be even more so. Because in addition to Red Bull, expect a strong McLaren who have always been near the front. [Lewis] Hamilton and is an exceptional driver. Then I also expect Mercedes who cannot afford to have another season like the last as they have invested too much.”

He observed, “On the track we will have to get used to a small revolution as it will no longer be automatic that the driver starting from pole will have a smooth ride to victory. Strategy and team work will be very important. The real problem of today’s F1 is that there are more people involved in the technical aspects. The only one man show left is Adrian Newey.”

When he was asked who he expects to be the most formidable opponent in 2011: “Vettel,” was his prompt answer