Domenicali: The problem at Ferrari is not Domenicali, I’m the first at work and the last to leave

Stefano Domenicali on the Ferrari pit wall

Stefano Domenicali on the Ferrari pit wall

Ferrari failed to beat Red Bull for a fourth consecutive season because of two main factors, according to team boss Stefano Domenicali – neither of which is himself, claims the team chief.

Speaking to the Spanish sports newspaper AS, the Italian denied he is the main problem, “You wouldn’t change Domenicali and win tomorrow.”

“Sure, my boss could do it, and if he does, I would always be grateful to Ferrari,” said Domenicali. “But in Italy there is a saying: ‘When you leave the road you know, the other could be worse’.

“The problem is not Domenicali,” he added. “Domenicali is the first to come to work in the morning and the last to leave.

“If we had won in 2012, Domenicali would be a phenomenon, he would have done his job well,” he said.

Stefano Domenicali wlaks past the Red Bull pit garage

Stefano Domenicali walks past the Red Bull pit garage

Indeed, together with Fernando Alonso – whose patience may now be running out – Ferrari has come tantalisingly close to winning under the Domenicali reign.

Domenicali thinks the main problems in 2013 were technical ones.

“The first is that at the beginning of the season we had a car that was competitive in qualifying and very good in race pace.

“The problem is that we could not improve the car steadily, because unfortunately in some cases we brought developments that, instead of improving, actually worsened the car,” he said.

Domenicali said that Ferrari has been working hard to right that wrong, including by completely overhauling the Maranello wind tunnel, and installing technical bosses – James Allison and Pat Fry – who are renowned for success in Formula 1′s aerodynamically-focused era.

Fernando Alonso with  Stefano Domenicali

Fernando Alonso with Stefano Domenicali

He explained that the second fundamental problem in 2013 has been Pirelli.

“I do not mention why or whether it was right or not, but in changing the tyre type we have not been able to exploit the best feature we had – our competitive race pace,” said Domenicali.

He also said that, despite coming so close in some years, not winning in the end had now increased the pressure on Ferrari to fever-pitch.

That has now resulted in the Alonso exit rumours, and “general criticism” that Domenicali thinks makes little sense.

“Like when it comes to the drivers,” he said, “many times I’ve read in the past ‘Ferrari has to change Felipe [Massa]‘.

“But now I read ‘Felipe has to stay!’ Which is it? A little rationality, please,” Domenicali pleaded.

“I’m the first to defend Felipe and I always will, because he is a special lad, someone dedicated to the team, but you have to make a professional assessment,” he added. (GMM)

Subbed by AJN.

  • Alberto

    Overall I guess Domenicali is still the right man for the job, so I don’t see anything particularly wrong, who is surely professional and committed (except maybe he should learn for once when he speaks about other drivers that Vettel is pronounced “Fettel” and not “Vettèll” but it’s just a detail not crucial for doing a good job, it’s actually worse when you hear TV commentators making those mistakes).
    What has been the real problem for Ferrari in the past few years is the wind tunnel, no doubt. I reckon they didn’t take the matter in a timely manner and I’m actually very, very surprised about how long it took for Ferrari to take a decision, for finally updating and fix their correlation problems in the wind tunnel (as in fact the first news that came out about this was 3-4 years ago). And excuse me if I’m too doubtful or critical but with all due respect I’m not so sure that the Toyota wind tunnel in Cologne, that Ferrari has been using in the meantime, is as “state of the art facility” as they want us to think or it’s just the personnel’s fault, who knows… in the end results speak for themselves, don’t they?
    I also wonder if working on car models that are one third of the size of a real F1 car is or can be also a correlation problem generator. Maybe half the size or real size would constitute a better solution (I’d be curious to learn about the other teams wind tunnels and then make a comparison).
    Of course the outcome of the past 4 years is not what Alonso in the first place deserved but unfortunately we learn many times in life that merit is not the first factor for success.
    I also have a feeling that Ferrari should start to “dare” more, instead of being punctually surprised by other teams clever solutions and then playing catch up, like in recent years. I think it’s time for the team to start to find new awareness and set the trend again. Best of luck and thanks for reading!

  • Steve W

    First at work and last to leave work… OK, but what really counts is what he’s doing while he’s at work.

  • shinzo

    @Alberto. Are wind tunnels all that important in modern F1? As far as I know wind tunnel tech only apply to straight line aero. It seems the most important area where large gains can me made is in the cornering speed (both entry and exit). This is where RB are so good. How can a wind tunnel help with this?

  • hillside

    takes a two hour lunch break and an hour for every coffee after his 30 minute nap

  • Mercedes supporter forever

    Domenicali is the right man for the job… It’s his technical people that are not the right people…

  • Butterfly

    If the problem is not Domenicali, then why didn’t he wipe the floor with Pirelli and vetoed the tire change? Ferrari are the only team capable of vetoing technical changes, yet they did nothing.

    Isn’t Domenicali’s responsibility to do what’s best for his team, or is he more interested in being seen as non-confrontational.

    It makes no sense and that’s why people think he’s got no guts whatsoever.

    If I was in his shoes I would have said in an official press statement: “Pirelli are going to change the tires to 2012-spec over my dead body. If they do, I’m going to come down on them like a tone of bricks. We’ll see you in court and we might sue the FIA as well.”

    God, I wish I had the chance to say that.

  • sebolonso

    The problem at Ferrari is Alfonso. Only issue keeping him in the seat is Santander finance. Domenicali cannot naturally say this in public, so he is forced to use Pirelli excuse instead.

  • Tinto

    Without RBs presence on F1 grid, Ferrari would have done just fine winning championships. They are not too bad… looking to Domenicali as a scape goat is not necessarily correct, I dare to say.

    Ferrari nightmare is not going to disappear quite soon. There is room for improvement of course, but their rise IMHO is a combination of a few factors: a bit of management, better engineering, but a bit of drivers too. Without trying to hurt any of Ferrari fans, I think a different lineup of drivers can bring Ferrari to the top of F1.

  • Taskmaster

    I’m amused any time a team leader claims the failures of the team are not with the team leader. In my experience with many clown bosses, this is a sure sign of a poor team leader. The work ethic excuse is also a symptom – Reality check: how many hours one works is less important than the quality of work performed. Teams suffer from a failure of leadership more often than hardware shortages or financial problems. Ferrari has missed developments, failed to stay ahead of issues like the wind tunnel, and spend too much time blaming external forces, the rules, aerodynamics, Pirelli, etc. These got ahead of them because leadership failed. Proof of this is that other teams have succeeded within the same universe of issues. As Einstein said – Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result each time. Ferrari is a great team, with a need to redress leadership issues that are hobbling it. They are not alone. Williams and McLaren are in the same boat, for the same basic reason – a vacuum of inspired leadership, or leadership blocking inspired talent that exists from succeeding.

  • Taskmaster

    On wind tunnels: All teams agreed to test on 60% models at speeds no greater than 50 meters per second (111 MPH) to hold costs of testing down. This correlates with top speed of a full scale car. The straight line tests are used to correlate the results from scaled models. Straight line tests and wind tunnel tests properly correlated at different speeds will provide the required data for determining cornering downforce. The only dynamic that is hard to correlate is the effect of the front wheels turned into a corner, but that usually only occurs at very low speeds, where the aero effect is lowest. The other dynamic not easily included in wind tunnel testing, is the effect of exhaust gas flow, as it is not only of a different speed, but much higher temperature.

  • Eevel

    @Taskmaster,
    That must be the most well written response ever to be posted on this sight ….. and so true!

  • F1 Neutral

    I think most people forget that aside from the Schumacher years of 2000-2004, Ferrari are a team that have never dominated before or after. Yes, they may have won a title with Kimi (carrying the Schumacher DNA on the car) but aside from that, very little.
    They have produced mediocre machines since the last regulation changes in 2009. No doubting Alonso’s talent to get the team to the last race of the season with his great racecraft though.
    Ferrari just have to accept that they have a top 4 car – not as good as Mercedes, Lotus or Redbull. They, at least, have a driver who is capable of extracting a little more than it’s true potential on race days, and they have to be thankful for that. Without Alonso’s performance and craft, they would be rather embarrassing.
    I would like to see Ferrari wining again, but I am keeping my eye on Mercedes for 2014 as I believe that Lewis signed for them with the major rule changes in mind.

  • Mike

    Ferrari needs to learn how RB has a form of traction control that is either legal or is not being caught by F1 inspection. Then Ferrari needs to implement same.

  • fools

    Ferrari will be fine. They are getting the wind Tunnel back and they can have access directly in-house. It must of been hard to get the results from Toyota

  • ZombieF1

    Even in football, most clubs sack their managers instead of players.

  • Eevel

    If the buck doesn’t stop at Mr. Domenicalli where does the buck stop?

  • Eevel

    A: That’s an easy one: the buck stops at Mr. Domenicalli.

  • Eevel

    When someone refers to themselves in the third person you know they’ve lost the plot and ‘Mr. Domenicalli’ has lost the plot.

  • Eevel

    He must be one useless MOFO if he puts in so many hours and still doesn’t achieve his goals.

  • Thor

    Im looking for the reason Why Domenicali sais “Im not at fault”
    Is he afraid of being sacked?

  • Tinto

    @Taskmaster: Good comments… The only thing I would say is about Ferrari as a very political company where Domenicali is not the only responsible person to be sacked. Italians are a bit different. A hint?

    Mercedes’ Toto Wolff with a reference about Scuderia Ferrari (and 2014 rivalries):

    “…A month ago I was in Maranello and saw the engine factory and thought ‘German engineering ingenuity against Italian improvisation and French laissez-faire’…”

  • huwon9

    All effort and no progress.

  • Taskmaster

    Tinto – I agree. I might add that Ferrari sometimes appears to forget that its grand image and reputation do not make the cars faster. I believe they work very hard at what they do, but at times that hard work is pedaling a load of pigs up a hill toward a dead end. I will say one thing though. While 62, 67, 69, 73 and 80 were ugly seasons, the Scuderia is always in the top 4, 15 times 2nd, and 16 times champion. 55 seasons and 31 in the top 2 is an excellent result. What makes then conspicuous in off-years is the stark contrast with expectations. Based on expectations, one would expect them to have superior leadership, even when they have off-seasons. This does not appear to be the case today. This may not be fair to Domenicali, but it sure looks like he is part of the problem, rather than inspired path to the ultimate solution. Red Bull seem to have the opposite dynamic in place – an inspired and well lead team of high performers is going to be hard to beat, no matter what color you paint your car, or how illustrious you past has been.

  • Boycotthehaters

    “Ferrari needs to learn how RB has a form of traction control that is either legal or is not being caught by F1 inspection.”

    In other words they need to hire Vettel, because he IS the “traction control system” on the Red Bull.

  • Boycotthehaters

    “If the problem is not Domenicali, then why didn’t he wipe the floor with Pirelli and vetoed the tire change?”

    Because Alonso was nearly killed at Silverstone?

  • Snowman

    @Boycott

    Thankyou, sir.

    Too many people seem to forget that the tyre changes were because of the blowouts, not because of team heckling.

  • Empee

    @Taskmaster

    Love your assessment. All I’d like to add to it is that not only have other teams gotten around these issues, some have managed to do so with far less money and/or resources at their disposal. That’s never a good sign of leadership effectiveness, especially over the extended period in question. If the problem isn’t necessarily Dominicalli, someone in a decision-making capacity is still responsible for waiting so long before holding the team accountable for sandbagging their own progression with ineffectual developments.

  • Mr Hoy

    At the end of the day everybody has the same set of rules same tyres etc: whoever manages it best wins end of story

    Ferrari’s problem is no down to one man.
    Red Bull have kicked their butts with a better allround package.

  • the fan

    Alonso for the past 3 out of 4 years is the only driver to provide the strongest challenge to Vettel so to say that Alonso is the problem is something really weird, haters will always hate…

    the problem with Ferrari is in its technical department. they are not just good enough same with the other teams. while each team has its own weakness and strength, Red Bull just seems to have no weakness, all strength and no team can challenge them at the moment. their wind tunnel issue is just alarming given they are Ferrari and have one of the biggest budgets in F1, this should be worked out already. hopefully with James Allison’s arrival they would get better. at the moment, its plain and simple…. Red Bull is just that good. they have a good driver in an absolutely perfect machinery. that combo alone explains it all.

  • farizY

    If you look at the past few years, Ferrari was not doing too bad, and neither this year, they are currently second in both the constructors and drivers championship.
    We also cannot rule out the Alonso factor as well as Massa has been inconsistent and underperforming since that unfortunate accident in Hungary.
    The problem is, people still considered them the team that dominated 2000-2004. Well, they’re not, and rules and regulations has changed a lot ever since to slow down the Ferraris. And current F1, RB is best at interpreting the rules coupled with the incredible drive by Vettel, resulted in them, dominating the scene.
    I’m actually very excited to see how next year will pan out with new cars and rules change.

  • Blackpebel

    Well,, he definitely makes sure that he takes his daily shit while at work,,, everyday,,,, I guess he has been doing that consistently for the past 4 year

  • Blackpebel

    I am sorry,,,, please excuse my language,, but that’s one thing that every animal does,,, considering that he stays so long at work im assuming that it could be a part of his daily activity…

  • Blackpebel

    @Taskmaster .. I respect your assessment sir!!

    Ferrari needs a leader who can act as a leader,, and not work as an employee who claims working overtime as an achievement on his appraisal report…

  • Blackpebel

    Why not give the ship to someone like briatore,, I guess his accent of Italian would be something everyone else in the team would understand… ;-)

  • Blackpebel

    Here’s what,, in reality,,, efforts don’t count,, results DO!!!

    And I don’t see any!!!

    As said earlier in this chain,,, the buck stops getting passed,, RIGHT HERE!

  • harry harris

    he’s not a scape goat but he’s truly BIG FAT LIAR

  • Butterfly

    Ah yes, the myth of working hard. Doesn’t Domenicali ask himself how is it that the design office keeps coming up with such bad cars? Especially considering the budget at their disposal.

    So, in Italy, a 250M budget gets you two wins, whereas in Britain you get to steamroll the field with the same amount of money. Not to mention there are no wind-tunnel problems in sight.

    McLaren have the same kind of aging, small-scale wind-tunnel as Ferrari, but are now working on building a proper, next-gen wind-tunnel like only Toyota and Sauber have at their disposal. Meanwhile, over at Maranello, Ferrari have “opened” the “new” wind-tunnel which is just the old one with minor tweaks. Same size, same problems – walls too close – but, whatever.

    2014 will be like 2011. Mark my words.

  • creepy Neighbour

    “I’m the first to defend Felipe and I always will, because he is a special lad, someone dedicated to the team, but you have to make a professional assessment,”….Luca had better make a professionak assessment on you and FIRE you there and then!!!! You are a big disappointment. Its your team, if you have failed to make them work…then go and may be we shall find another Brawn or Todt to fill up the gap!

  • lewis

    very bad leadership