Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2014

Domenicali steps down after Ferrari’s poor start

2014 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2014Ferrari confirmed Stefano Domenicali has resigned his position team principal following their uncompetitive performance in the first three races of 2014.

Ferrari has promoted Marco Mattiacci in his place in charge of the team’s racing activities.

Domenicali said: “There are special moments that come along in everyone’s professional life, when one needs courage to take difficult and very agonising decisions.”

“It is time for a significant change. As the boss, I take responsibility, as I have always done, for our current situation. This decision has been taken with the aim of doing something to shake things up and for the good of this group of people that I feel very close to.

“With all my heart, I thank all the men and women in the team, the drivers and the partners for the wonderful relationship we have enjoyed over all these years. I hope that very soon, Ferrari will be back where it deserves to be. My final words of thanks go to our president, for having always supported me and to all our fans. I only regret that we have been unable to harvest what we worked so hard to sow in recent years.”

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said he thanks Domenicali “for his constant dedication and effort, but also for the great sense of responsibility he has shown, even today, in always putting the interests of Ferrari above all else”.

“I hold Domenicali in esteem and I have watched him grow professionally over the twenty three years we have worked together, I now wish him every success for the future.

“I also want to wish all the best to Marco Mattiacci, whom I know to be a highly regarded manager and who knows the company well. He has accepted this challenge with enthusiasm.”

Domenicali joined Ferrari in 1991 after graduating from the University of Bologna. He succeeded Jean Todt as the team principal in 2008.

The team scored its most recent constructors’ championship victory that year and Felipe Massa narrowly lost the drivers’ title to McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.

Since then Fernando Alonso has come close to the drivers’ championship on two occasions. Domenicali is the most high-profile victim of Ferrari’s inability to regain championship-winning form in that time.

Felipe Massa, Williams, Bahrain International Circuit, 2014Alonso arrived at the final race of 2010 leading the points standings but lost the crown to Sebastian Vettel after a tactical error. Strategist Chris Dyer, who helped engineer the team’s success during the Michael Schumacher years, was moved aside over the winter.

A disappointing start to the 2011 season saw Aldo Costa replaced as technical director. The team ended the year with a single victory.

Ferrari bounced back from a poor start to 2012 and Alonso again arrived at the season finale with a chance of claiming the title, only to lose out to Vettel once more. The following year Domenicali invested their resources in upgrading and improving the technical facilities at Maranello, during which time they offered little resistance to Red Bull’s continued dominance.

The arrival of new power unit regulations gave the team hope that it would be able to play to its traditional strength of engine development in 2014. But it has started the season well off the pace of Mercedes.

President Luca di Montezemolo visited his first race of the season in Bahrain during which his team’s cars were repeatedly overtaken. He left before Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen crossed the line at the foot of the points positions.

Ferrari have fallen to fifth in the championship behind Mercedes, Force India, McLaren and Red Bull.

Montezemolo had voiced support for Domenicali as recently as September last year, when he told media it was not Domenicali’s fault the team had failed to win championships in 2010 and 2012.

This article will be updated.

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Images © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Williams/LAT

119 comments on “Domenicali steps down after Ferrari’s poor start”

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  1. That will fix it…

    1. Exactly my thought. Stefano wasn’t the problem.

      1. Although I agree that he wasn’t the problem, I don’t think I’m in the minority when I say this comes as no surprise. I’m guessing that this will only be the first of several big moves Ferrari will make in the near future to get the team back on track.

    2. And who is Marco Mattiacci? Never heard of him …

      They should have hired Boullier … They can try to lure Ross Brawn back too.

      1. An unknown for me until I read the Autosport note. He sells Ferraris in America…

    3. Removing Domenicali? Yes. Hiring that Mattiaucci dude? No way.

      So many capable and experienced guys and they settle with this. Not necessarily from F1, you can look at WEC or other major series. Remember Ross Brawn came from the Jaguar LM team.

      1. He started long before that in F1 at March and then Williams.

  2. As I said in the forum, it doesn’t come as a complete shock, however, 3 races in, LDM is a very hard man. Good luck Domenicali.

    1. I don’t think it’s only down to 3 races but say 3 years or more. Behind the factory walls at Maranello, a lot of things goes on that we can’t see. Since Ferrari won the last championship (2008), Formula 1 has seen two giant rule changes (2009 and 2014) and Ferrari has failed to capitalise on both and then playing catch up.

      It would be true that Stefano would be only one of the links of this failure chain but he is the head and he has been given a lot of years to get Ferrari back to where it belongs.

      Ferrari has been gradually breaking down and its ego has been crushed by a few other top teams, whether on track or even off it.

      I don’t think that removing Stefano is THE solution for it as I feel Ferrari has some fundamental problems to deal with.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        14th April 2014, 15:05

        I have to say that this appears to be a knee-jerk reaction by LDM. I guess he was expecting that bringing in Raikonnen next to Alonso would have secured top spot for Ferrari from day 1 but that’s silly when you factor the 2014 regulation changes.

        This new guy better turn out to be “New”ey, otherwise Ferrari are screwed.

        I think Domenicali and Alonso did a great job over the past years – there was no way to hold off Red Bull and Vettel but they came very, very close on more than one occasion.

  3. Cant say it wasn’t coming. Something was going to give. Its sad because Stefano seems like a really nice guy but that doesn’t win you championships. Who’ll replace him on the pit wall this weekend? Surely LDM has got to put a phone call in to Ross Brawn.

  4. ‘Resigned’ is a nice way to put it, probably forced out. And rightly so, to be honest. Ferrari were one of two teams who could have really capitalised on the new regs and they delivered a car so useless that even two world champions are struggling to get it into the points. Shameful effort for a team with such a proud history.

  5. Bring on Ross Brawn! :)

    1. Exactly my thoughts! He must be getting bored of fishing by now. :)

      1. Indeed :)

      2. My thoughts were more like: please don’t!

    2. they have already announced his replacement. read the article.

      1. I did read the article thank you.
        “Ferrari has promoted Marco Mattiacci in his place in charge of the team’s racing activities.”
        In charge of the team’s racing activities does NOT imply he is Team Principle :p

    3. flavio briatore

    4. First thought after hearing this news.. Ross Brawn returns, Shumi wakes up, makes another come back in 2015 and wins the next 3 WDC’s with Ferrari. #wishfulthinking

      1. That would be just perfect, although I would settle for one WDC ;)

    5. funny that Ferrari fans call for Brawn now when he was removed so unceremoniously in 06.

  6. Sad news, Domenicali always came across as a really nice bloke, but I suppose with Ferrari’s uncompetitiveness this year it is no surprise.

    1. I always thought of him as an Italian Martin Whitmarsh – maybe the two of them are just too nice for F1?

    2. I agree.. Stefano seemed like a really nice and likeable chap… but he should have done a better job over the past few years in getting his team up the ranks.

      I don’t even know who this Mattiacci guy is, but I’m disappointed to see another Italian heading this team. I think they need to do everything possible in their might to get Ross Brawn on board.

  7. I’m not sure what to think of this to be honest. 1 constructors title since 2008 is hardly good enough for a team of Ferrari’s resources, however Ferrari’s problem seems to be at the very very top. Luca can get rid of Dyer, Costa and Domenicali but eventually he’s going to start running out of people to blame.

    Hopefully when we get to Monza the tifosi will make their voices heard and boo di Montezemolo instead of Vettel.

    1. @davef1 Blaming the team owner for the team’s lack of results? Seriously?

      1. Depends on the role of the team owner, doesn’t it? If Luca di Montezemolo creates an unhealthy work environment for his people, by constantly breathing down their necks, people will not be able to function at their best.

        I think it’s best if he moves on to politics. He’s had many successful years with Ferrari, perhaps it’s time for a new president.

      2. What’s the difference from blaming the team director? There’s a power pyramid in place, after Dominicali, the only one left is Montezemolo.

        Who, btw, does not own the team.

      3. Montezemolo doesn’t own jack squat, he’s the president of the company. It’s pretty obvious Ferrari has a leadership problem and these issues start from the top. Its his problem and he has done a very poor job to correct it. Now he has a car salesman running the team, what a clown show. I like Ferrari and want them to be successful but this is reality and it looks like they’re going to sink lower before they rise again. Maybe the board will tell Montezemolo to leave the racers alone and focus on other stuff. That would be a good start.

    2. +1
      nuff said

    3. +1

      Agree entirely @davef1

  8. This has been coming for a while now. Domenicali was a pretty calm and collected person. Lets hope they dont put an eccentric italian in his place. Also…bring back Ross Brawn (out of retirement).

  9. Good for him. I’m sure he’s tired of being Luca’s puppet all this time.

    1. In my humble opinion the one who should resign is Montezuma.

      1. What’s a chocolatier got to do with anything? :-P

        1. They’re at fault of Ferrari’s lack of speed. Alonso and Kimi just can’t stop eating them causing them being overweight. :DD

  10. “Deseves to be”, they don’t deserve it, they have to earn it. Just because you’ve been there doensn’t mean you deserve it. Build a quick car that is worthy of your two world champions and results will come. Blaming Domenicalli however is just nonsense.

    1. Couldn’t say more …

    2. Agree. Ferrari’s self-entitlement has always put me off them.

  11. I hope that very soon, Ferrari will be back where it deserves to be.

    I think you’re missing the point about sport. As long as no-one is cheating, Ferrari – and every other team – are exactly where they deserve to be. Perhaps this sense of entitlement is the root of the problem?

    1. Welcome to the subtleties of the English language ;-)

      1. I would probably not have mentioned it, or even noticed, if I didn’t think Ferrari to truly believe they have a rightful place at the head of the field.

    2. Especially since others can beat them on much smaller budgets.

  12. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    14th April 2014, 12:10

    Even though this has been in the pipes for a while now, it is nothing more than a facade of action to veil the interior turmoil. Domenicali was not the faulty component, it is the emphatic loss of Ferrari’s technical momentum. 2014 should have played completely into their hands, they are a “works” outfit after all, and yet they have seemingly produced, for the fourth season in succession, little more than an average car. Stefano was doing a perfectly excellent job, and I vehemently reject a) that this exit was preference for him, and b) that he is anything other than a scapegoat for Ferrari’s inadequacies…

    As for Mattiacci, good luck sunny-Jim, you’ll need it…

    1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      14th April 2014, 12:22

      I would follow that rant with a subsidiary, namely one that puts Aldo Costa’s name in lights, with the Scuderia managing just six wins since his exit, only one more than was managed with the perfectly decent car that was the F10, a Costa creation. Yes, the 150° Italia did not live up to its testing form, but if you consider the form of the F2012, F138 and F14 T, the term “knee-jerk” comes to mind…

      1. Well the dismissal of Chris Dyer, the man who engineered MSC and Raikkonen to their titles, after the horror strategy call in Abu Dhabi 2010 was also knee-jerk, so it is true to form if nothing else.

        1. @geemac Consider also where Aldo Costa is now (Mercedes, I believe?). Given their recent dominance, it says a lot about how much he was to blame at Ferrari.

        2. @geemac Consider also where Aldo Costa is now (Mercedes, I believe?). Given their recent dominance, it says a lot about how much he was to blame at Ferrari.

          1. Yup. Getting rid of two talented people like that so quickly was a major blunder @pielighter.

          2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
            14th April 2014, 15:55

            @pielighter – Well, shall we examine the nature of the cars Costa has produced in recent years?

            2010 – F10: The only decent Ferrari of the post-2009 aerodynamic era. Ferrari only loose the title through strategic incompetence.
            2011 – 150° Italia: A disappointment relative to its testing form.
            2012 – W03: Mercedes take their first win, but clearly divert resources to future programmes mid-season.
            2013 – W04: A huge step forward, with Mercedes taking three wins on the way to second in the WCC.
            2014 – W05: Mercedes dominate F1.

            Speaks volumes really…

        3. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
          14th April 2014, 15:46

          @geemac – Excellent point. After a terrible 2009 and the self-inflicted failure of 2010, Ferrari wrongly decided to change the formula, and frankly, they’ve been nowhere since. I am a Ferrari fan, but frankly, recent years have just been a litany of terrible decisions…

          1. mercs domination is mainly due to the powertrain design

          2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
            15th April 2014, 9:16

            And yet they are two seconds a lap faster than cars with an identical powertrain?

    2. Precisely. It’s just more Ferrari posturing, along with the predictable talk of ‘we are the prestige of f1 & we deserve to win blah blah blah’. At the end of the day it’s still a team, and so it would be highly unlikely any single person is to blame. OK fair enough; if nothing else is working why not shake up the team players, but pinning the blame on one person by forcing their resignation is childish. (Not that I would expect anything less from Ferrari though.)

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        14th April 2014, 16:06

        @mskii -Well, if you’re angry now, you’ll be livid once you’ve read this. I wonder if Luca gave him a script to read to the media?

    3. I think the main problem this year is the engine – it’s getting ironic if Ferrari can’t build engines..

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        14th April 2014, 15:40

        @fastiesty – That’s a tad unfair, the Ferrari engine has the potential to be a thoroughly solid unit. They’ve done a better job, even than Mercedes, on engine cooling, hence the small sidepods on the F14 T, and appear to have a seamless downshift system, which, once Ferrari has debugged the rest of the car, could give the F14 T an advantage over the rest of the field under braking. The true root of the problem with the F14 T is dual.

        Firstly, the software that governs many of the onboard systems, including the brake-by-wire system, is nowhere near as advanced as that of Mercedes and Red Bull, with software engineering being a weakness of the Scuderia in recent years. So to has been aerodynamics, with Ferrari simply seeming unable to get to grips with aero since the 2009 change. In fact the only decent car, in an aerodynamic sense, that Ferrari have produced since 2008, was the F10, which, as we know, was an Aldo Costa car.

        Ferrari will be alright, they just need four or five key people to transform the way they treat software and aero…

        1. I thought Ferrari were one of the fast teams through Melbourne’s turns.

          1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
            14th April 2014, 16:13

            @austus – Ferrari maxed out the wing angle at Melbourne, hence their inability to overtake anyone…

        2. OK, that’s more re-assuring – so they are just piling on the wing to make up for other deficits. Give them a better BBW (chuckle) and flight through the air and all is not lost. Maybe enticing Aldo Costa back from Mercedes could be a good way forwards, or Bob Bell/Ross Brawn…

  13. This can be either Good or bad!!! lets c what happens!!!

    1. how bad could it get really? two world champions fighting with the backmarkers? surely that’s impossible?

  14. This is the correct decision. Ferrari was good in 2010 but since then have struggled too much for a team with such a large budget . Even in 2012, where against all the odds Alonso dragged his Ferrari into contention for a Championship, Ferrari’s in-season development fell short not just of Red-Bull but also McLaren and Lotus. Massa was nowhere near as bad as he looked in the Ferrari as he is now starting to prove. Whereas Kimi is now struggling more than he did at anytime since his return. And you know when Alonso started to struggle then there are serious problems with that car.

  15. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1)
    14th April 2014, 12:17

    So Ferrari have decided to get rid of their Head-Of-Appearing-On-Television, that’ll sort out the problem…

    1. @full-throttle-f1 Stefano has officially been promoted to Head-of-Not-Appearing-on-Television-Anymore.

      I hope he can fill in the position at Lotus, and reorganize that team to show off his worth.

  16. Sad to see him go but sacking him can’t change the team that much. If I were Haas I’d be looking at snapping him up, the experience he has wouldn’t be a bad thing in a new team.

  17. I’ll stick my neck out (stay away, Adrian) and say that Ferrari have taken a good decision. Better late than never. Firing Dyer and Costa and replacing them with Fry and Martin didn’t help, Tombazis as designer isn’t helping, their wind tunnels are failing, their new motor has power and electrical issues. Hamashima can’t understand tyres, Marmorini can’t build good engines, Alonso can’t qualify well….that’s just too many people to blame.

    Fact is, Domenicali’s reign has coincided with a dry period for Ferrari. With the car they had in 2008, they should have won the WDC. They fought for the championship in 2012 largely because of Alonso and mistakes for other teams. Fact is, Ferrari have been rather reactive as a whole in their overall policy towards everything. Bringing Kimi back to Ferrari instead of appointing Hulkenberg was Domenicali’s brainchild, and not something which I personally feel, was the right decision. Fact is, they can fire all the people they want, but the problem has been at the very top. And no, di Montezemolo can’t step aside because he owns Ferrari, he can’t simply sell it to someone or hand the reins to someone else, who is unproven. So the team boss had to go.

    As for people speaking out against Mattiacci’s appointment, I believe that this is a temporary replacement. We might see larger roles for Allison and Resta, until Ferrari get a full-time replacement.

    Bottomline is, I believe this was the step Ferrari needed to take. Chucking out mid-rung engineers and replacing them with supposedly better ones wasn’t working. It was time for a change in the way the team was being run, and the overall mindset.

    1. Luca di Montezemolo doesn’t own Ferrari. He is the chairman. Fiat and the Ferrari family own Ferrari.

      1. As I understand it FIAT own Ferrari 100% but they just act as a “parent company” and leave the company to manage its own affairs. Hence why the family is still involved.

      2. Exactly the Agnelli family the family that owns Juventus club and FIAT group owns Ferrari, they own 95% of the shares the other 5% are owned by Pierro Ferrari

    2. I’m pretty sure it was Luca di Montezemolo who chose Raikkonen over Hulkenberg – being only his signature that was said to be missing on the contract. It’s not too surprising Ferrari would choose a former World Champion to be the “2nd rooster”.

  18. Good guy who presented a likeable public face for Ferrari – on British TV he came across as much less desperate for attention than his rivals at McLaren and Red Bull. He should go and get an Ferrari LMP1 sportscar team started, he’d fit in well there…

    But in F1 I’d worry that they seem to be regressing towards the Prost-firing chaos of the early 90s.

  19. About time. Most of us having been saying that this day will come for a number of years now, so there is no surprises. Glad that Luca finally found it in him to move Stefano aside.

    Bringing this new chap from Car Sales is probably a good thing. A fresh pair of eyes might just be the thing required. As qualified as Ross Brawn maybe, I dont think bringing him in is the best way forward. The likes of James Allison and Pat Fry need to be given their space to work and allow their recent technical reshuffling to take shape and mature. By bringing in a seasoned campaigner like Brawn, the team runs a risk of another reshuffle to suit his proven methods.

    Being a non F1 person Marco Mattiaci could allow the team’s technical side to run itself, while he manages the politics of F1 and Ferrari. We could see James Allison’s position and stock in Ferrari rise with this. This could be the start of the Ferrari buying into the Mclaren model of 21st century F1 management.

    Lets hope this marks the beginning of a new ear at Maranello…hopefully a positive one.

  20. This is shocking, and yet at the same time I’m not that surprised. Since 2009 Ferrari has struggled to create a truly competitive car despite their massive resources and what looks like having intelligent people in the right positions (eg Pat Fry, James Allison). I liked Domenicali’s way of doing business. He seemed to be a calm, reasonable man and a good counterpoint to the pantomime ridiculousness of Luca Di Montezemolo. Hopefully the new man can keep the reason and calmness Domenicali brought while also helping to lift Ferrari’s competitiveness.

    I fear that I’m wrong and Ferrari will slowly descend into political in-fighting, headless behaviour and dropping standards that characterised the team before the Schumacher-Todt-Brawn era. Something needed to be done at Ferrari, I just hope firing Domenicali was that something.

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