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

  1. ciprian (@ciprian) said on 14th April 2014, 13:23

    Domenicali should leave it, that’s ok. But it will not fix the issuee. Anyway, not so fast.

  2. Fixy (@fixy) said on 14th April 2014, 13:42

    After all these bitter years I have wanted him to leave, but now I realise I’m sorry for him, and I especially liked his way of speaking which is also clear in this article. He always expressed union in Ferrari, and it’s not his fault if the cars haven’t been up to the challenge. But witht he narrow misses in 2008, 2010 and 2012 I think he probably wasn’t at the right place.

  3. smudgersmith1 (@smudgersmith1) said on 14th April 2014, 14:00

    Sad news, always liked him, but in the end I suppose he had to go, Brawn would be the obvious choice, but maybe the next generation will win over.

  4. AlonsoSpeed said on 14th April 2014, 14:19

    This decision should have been made back in 2010.

    Now give us flavio briatore , we know he’ll do WHATEVER it takes to win. I this point , Ferrari needs to get back into business of winning. In words of Bill belichick ” if you’re not trying to cheat you’re not trying to win”

  5. tmax (@tmax) said on 14th April 2014, 14:38

    While the news itself is not a big surprise given the tough situation Ferrari is in, I believe that the problems run much deeper than Domenicalli. I believe the biggest problem Ferrari is facing is the Talent attraction. Some of my thoughts.

    1) Italian economy : Italy is going through a very tough phase economically. While the people and the country has a very deep and sincere passion for motor racing , other issues are taking over the region. In this kind of a scenario it is very very difficult for Ferrari to attract good talent. It is a general impression that a Knight in a Shining armor is enough to uplift a team. I don’t fully buy into that. While Newey, Brawn, Allison et all have made a huge difference they needs a good level of engineering talent to implement their vision. Unfortunately I believe that such a talent is depleting in Italy due to the economic situation. Also because of the situation less and less people from outside are willing to take offers in Italy.

    2) England – The silicon valley of Racing : Needless to say when a region’s economy hits rough patch, people move to areas with higher & Safer employability. All said and done today England is the Silicon valley equivalent for F1 racing. All the talent is concentrated there. There is nothing wrong about it. When the recession hit hard in americas in 2009 the IT folks who had spread out to other regions started getting back to Bay Area to reduce the risk. In the same manner when the general European economy is going through tough times it is natural for the best of the best engineers to move closer to London to ensure that they have better Job opportunities.
    I strongly believe that Red Bull would not have dominated last 4 years if they were based out of Austria instead of Milton Keynes even if Adrian Newey was holding the same position there. Same case with Mercedes, It is not a surprise that they are based out of England instead of their hometown in Germany. Lets just say Force India was based out of India instead of Silverstone would they be where they are in the champ standings today ? No offence to people form India, Germany or Austria , it is just a matter of talent availability in a 360 format.

    It might sound ridiculous to people when i say this. I believe that Ferrari can make a lot of inroads by strategically setting up an operation in the UK along with Maranello. While it could be a matter of national pride but then Ferrari struggling to finish 9 and 10 is also not a pretty sight either.

    I could be proven wrong, A knight in a shining Armor might arrive and bring all the right talent with him/her to make a strong team like Ron Dennis, Frank Williams, Jean Todt or Christian Horner did but until then this could be a radically out of the box thinking that might save the Prancing Horses !!!!!!

    • obvious said on 14th April 2014, 17:10

      V.interesting isights. I’ll add only this – pay careful attention to upcoming McLaren transformation this year. Hopefully we’ll see ‘Mika vs Michael’ repeat from 2015.

    • renton said on 14th April 2014, 19:12

      there’s 50 years of experience in the uk with specialized manufacturing industry, no wonder why they dominate. basing a team in the uk is just common sense
      the germans were capable of building many great engines – current merc powertrain excluded, obviously
      but, let’s just take wrc, with the exception of subaru, no uk-based was dominant over the years
      wec: playground of german based teams
      wtcc: rml was great but nobody else took it seriously then

      i think if the german meant it, they could be successful even in f1

      • matiascasali (@matiascasali) said on 15th April 2014, 1:38

        didn’t the mercedes engines (at least in the hakkinen era) were made by illmor, on the UK? and the Subaru, on the wrc were made by prodrive uk, again… aaaand if i’m not wrong, the engines weren’t from the subarus

  6. Firing Aldo Costa was childish so was removal of Chris Dyer, but replacing of Stefano is perfectly reasonable. It’s been so long that Ferrari has looked like a team which has lost the edge… the team needs fresh minds, someone who can motivate the team to perform at the top level consistently. They have two fantastic drivers & they just need to get the power unit sorted… they can challenge Merc… don’t rule them out just yet.

  7. Jonathan189 (@jonathan189) said on 14th April 2014, 15:15

    This season is going to hurt more than most for Ferrari, because it is all about engines. This story of this year is going to be that Mercedes did a far better job than Ferrari at making complicated, high-performance engines under the new technical regulations. And that is sure to hurt Ferrari’s image in the high-performance road car market.

    Clearly, replacing the team principal is not a solution in itself. I imagine the only real solution for Ferrari, barring a change in the technical regulations, is to lure a bunch of engineers over from Brixworth with the promise of enormous paycheques.

    • Jason said on 14th April 2014, 19:05

      lure a bunch of engineers over from Brixworth with the promise of enormous paycheques

      That’s assuming their aero is sorted.
      For which, they’ll need Newey.

  8. timi (@timi) said on 14th April 2014, 15:32

    NOOOOOO. Stefano seems like such a nice guy in interviews, I’ll be sad to see him go. However, I’m also shocked at how long Montezemolo kept him in charge of the team after so many years of producing average cars

  9. Uzair Syed (@ultimateuzair) said on 14th April 2014, 15:33

    The big problem that should be sacked is Luca di Montezemolo for his pathetic complaining all the time. ”Oh we hate the new rules because we can’t win!” and ”Oh this has turned into taxi driving!” Why can’t Montezemolo take action instead of complaining all the time because his tantrums won’t get him anywhere. I’d love to see him sacked but I don’t think it will happen.

  10. StephenH said on 14th April 2014, 16:04

    This is Formula 1, not football.

    Is Paulo Di Canio now going to be taking take over at Marinello ??

    Last time I checked he didn’t design the car or build the engine !!

  11. Ed Marques (@edmarques) said on 14th April 2014, 16:48

    It is said that this man was one of the biggest threats to Luca’s position in Ferrari (because of his succesfull work on Ferrari sales). Well, you know who Luca will blame if things fail.

  12. celeste (@celeste) said on 14th April 2014, 17:10

    Wow. didn´t ee this one comming, I guess is better to leave before they made you leave. So with Dominicali out and Mclaren going back to Ron Dennis is the heads the one that are changing.

  13. R.J. O'Connell (@rjoconnell) said on 14th April 2014, 17:56

    So how long will I need to wait before I can buy my 2015 Fernando Alonso McLaren merchandise?

  14. Nick (@npf1) said on 14th April 2014, 18:13

    Guess the comment sections of some less reputable F1 sites will rejoice as if Caligula has fallen.

    Stefano is a nice guy, but that might exactly be why he decided to step down and why LdM was ok with it. Jean Todt might look like a wee gnome, but from what I’ve heard he’s very methodical and keeps his head down and works. Ferrari became a little too good at excuses under Stefano. Still, I’ll miss the guy and it’s a shame they didn’t just demote him to a commercial position.

    The new guy won’t last. Fernando is probably already calling Flavio, LdM is probably already faxing Ross Brawn with insane salary propositions. Ferrari need a leader, preferably someone who knows how to get results.

    Despite being a Ferrari fan, I’m getting close to giving up on this season. Changing staff in-season in never did any team good (Benetton between 1997-1999, much?) in my memory.

  15. Yuriy Kvartsyanyy said on 14th April 2014, 18:34

    He and Bob Bell might join Haas team now. Don’t wanna see another team 10 sec off the pace.

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