Domenicali: “Now everyone is talking about F1”
The second block of the season big circus starts this weekend, in Spa, and Stefano Domenicali (Italy, 57 years old) wanted to take stock of the mid-year by videoconference with a large media group, including AS. Formula 1 CEO celebrates the state of health of the championship, throws details on the next calendar, defends the sprints and applauds the interest of several manufacturers to join the championship.
Good time. “It’s been an incredible start to the season. In terms of interest, importance, what’s happening on and off the track. We should all be proud. It’s a very important moment for Formula 1. because we have returned to a situation where everyone is talking about it. I have experienced it on tables, in the mountains or on the beaches, young people are talking about F1 and that is a sign. We have returned to the front row of the sport , it is becoming more and more popular and it is a reference for the technologies of the future. More and more people, and more and more young people, are interested in this sport. We cannot be complacent, but it’s a great moment considering everything that’s going on on the planet right now.
Red Bull-Ferrari battle. “From a business point of view, I would like to see another season that ends on the last lap of the last race. It would be fantastic. They are 80 points ahead (from Verstappen on Leclerc), But in my experience, never say never. In 2007 we were late (in Ferrari) and no one expected Kimi (Raikkonen) won the Brazilian championship. Red Bull is a strong team, Mercedes will grow, but I can only say, without going into assessments, that Ferrari must not give up until the last minute. There may be surprises, errors, reliability, weather…”.
Calendar 2023. “24 races. There are discussions and this must be formalized in the FIA World Council. I would be wary of those who say this will be Belgium’s last year. We are working and talking with other developers to see if they are ready in 2023 or later. But the balance sheet (between traditional and exotic breeds) is to find a mix between Europe, the Middle East, Asia and America. We have always said that the traditional races, which we know do not bring the same money as the others, will be respected. With Belgium, we are still talking. We have more demand than supply, but we are talking about the future with a rotating proposal for France. The rotations will not be for 2023, but they can start in 2024. And the 2024 calendar will be different because Ramadan is in March.
South Africa is getting cold. “I’ve always said we want a race in Africa and now the most likely place is South Africa. There are discussions with the promoter and we want a clear and solid long-term agreement, we doesn’t want to leave for a year and that’s it. The situation will take time and will clear up in the next few days. We want to go, but we want to do well.”
sprints “It’s good that MotoGP is exploring a different type of Grand Prix. We are working to have six races (in sprint) in 2023 and details on the sprint format are subject to change. There are details to work out, but from a fan perspective, every day you fight for something on the track is important. Free practice is important for drivers and engineers, but in sport you have to fight for something. I will be aggressive to have free practice on Friday morning and, from there, competition, reward. This will be my point of view for discussion in the future.
New Manufacturers. “The real world is moving towards hybridization and sustainable fuel and F1 is the pinnacle of innovation and must allow the manufacturer to progress in these areas. We are not talking about total electrification, our platform will allow manufacturers to show that there is another path that will also be very relevant. There are things that will happen very soon and I can’t comment now (Audi and Porsche will announce their participation.) And not only those we have already read, others are interested for the future. You have to find a balance between technical innovation, durability and without forgetting that you have to bring emotion and good racing. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be F1. It will affect the strategy, with more manufacturers the F1 scenario can be completely changed.”
Controversy in Abu Dhabi 21. “When a referee makes a mistake in a World Cup final, and a penalty is awarded, the reputation of the championship is not tarnished because it is a situation that can happen. The FIA has taken action Everyone related to F1 is fully trained and can also make mistakes. I would never, ever think that anyone does something on purpose to harm others. Otherwise I couldn’t be here right now. If it had been such a negative event (for image F1), there wouldn’t be as many participants in the 2022 races.”