Domenicali steps down after Ferrari’s poor start

2014 F1 season

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

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  1. Eddie (@wackyracer) said on 14th April 2014, 11:51

    That will fix it…

  2. dragoll (@dragoll) said on 14th April 2014, 11:51

    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.

    • Neel Jani (@neelv27) said on 14th April 2014, 12:00

      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.

      • Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 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. Tayyib said on 14th April 2014, 11:54

    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. Adam Kibbey (@kibblesworth) said on 14th April 2014, 11:55

    ‘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. bsnaylor (@bsnaylor) said on 14th April 2014, 11:57

    Bring on Ross Brawn! :)

  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.

    • dirgegirl (@dirgegirl) said on 14th April 2014, 13:00

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

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 14th April 2014, 14:32

      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. DaveF1 (@davef1) said on 14th April 2014, 11:59

    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.

    • wsrgo (@wsrgo) said on 14th April 2014, 12:03

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

      • maarten.f1 (@maarten-f1) said on 14th April 2014, 12:35

        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.

      • Albert said on 14th April 2014, 13:09

        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.

      • Brian C (@bcracing) said on 14th April 2014, 13:25

        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.

    • chris (@9chris9) said on 14th April 2014, 12:04

      nuff said

    • James (@iamjamm) said on 14th April 2014, 12:19


      Agree entirely @davef1

  8. Aimal (@aimalkhan) said on 14th April 2014, 12:02

    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. Andrei (@crandreico) said on 14th April 2014, 12:09

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

  10. Sam (@) said on 14th April 2014, 12:09

    “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.

  11. Adam Hardwick (@fluxsource) said on 14th April 2014, 12:10

    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?

  12. WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 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…

    • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 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…

      • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 14th April 2014, 13:03

        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.

        • PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 14th April 2014, 13:55

          @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.

          • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 14th April 2014, 14:05

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

          • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 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…

          • PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 14th April 2014, 16:04

            @william-brierty Exactly.

        • PieLighter (@pielighter) said on 14th April 2014, 13:55

          @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.

        • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 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…

    • mskii (@mskii) said on 14th April 2014, 14:08

      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.)

    • Iestyn Davies (@fastiesty) said on 14th April 2014, 14:37

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

      • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 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…

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

  14. Broom (@brum55) said on 14th April 2014, 12:15

    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) said on 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…

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