Exclusive interview - Ferraris Stefano Domenicali 02 Apr 2008
The role of Ferrari team principal is more than a job - its a life task. And whoever takes over from Jean Todt will be measured by the Frenchmans six titles in his tenure at the helm. Surprisingly, Stefano Domenicali, who from this season steps into Todts shoes, is unfazed by the pressure that comes with this assignment. Having grown up at Ferrari obviously gives him the confidence to cope with a team where triumph and tragedy are seemingly never far away - as the first two races of 2008 have shown
Q: The first 100 days in your new position are almost history. How has life changed for you?
Stefano Domenicali: Well, Id say its more current than history - a hundred days are hardly enough to change a life, dont you think? Of course I feel the responsibility and the honour of taking on such an important role, but I am the same person I always was and intend to stay that way.
Q: You have to stepped into some very big shoes. How do you cope with this? Has the transition from the old to the new regime gone smoothly?
SD: Once again, I think we have to be careful what words we use. There is no old or new regime, a phrase which smacks of revolution, a situation which is far from what is happening in Maranello. President Montezemolo and Todt have entrusted me with a task as part of a gradual process of renewal, which has been going on for some time now and is based on the principal of dynamic stability and internal growth. The teams philosophy is the same as the one that has been its trademark for so many years, even though every person is an individual, different to the others, capable of working and existing as an individual.
Q: You grew up within Ferrari, having had positions in many departments. Does that in-depth knowledge make it easier to cope with your new position?
SD: I think the path I took within the company has allowed me to acquire a very broad understanding of all the problems that can arise in the business of running a Formula One team. On top of that, I have been lucky enough to have extraordinary people like Montezemolo and Todt running the company and they have taught me a lot.
Q: The first two races of 2008 gave the impression that the start of the season came too soon for all the teams - Ferrari included. What makes it so difficult to be prepared, even after a long winter of intense testing?
SD: As far as we are concerned, Melbourne saw us experience serious reliability problems, but not because we arrived unprepared. It was rather the case that this year, everyone with the exception of one team had to deal with a new parameter, the MES central control unit, which still has to reveal all its secrets, especially in terms of the way its operation affects the overall functionality of the car.
Q: Are you satisfied with the two races - the car and the performance of your drivers? Especially Felipe Massa's zero points...
SD: We cannot be satisfied with having only picked up 11 points from the 36 on offer. However, this is the responsibility of the team as a whole, its manager, engineers, mechanics and, of course, the drivers: all of us have to improve our performance to reach the standard to which we aspire.
Q: You were testing in Bahrain in February - could that give you an advantage this weekend, being able to use recent data?
SD: I dont think it will be a real advantage come the end of the weekend, especially as the track conditions this weekend will be different to those of early February. The decision to go to Bahrain to test was based on the desire to be able to test the car at length in consistent weather conditions in higher temperatures than those normally encountered in Europe in winter.
Q: The 2007 season was effectively a two-horse race between Ferrari and McLaren. Now there is BMW-Sauber on the horizon. Will we see a three-way contest this year? And where do you see Ferrari?
SD: I think it is still a bit early to make definitive predictions, but from what we saw in Australia and Malaysia there are at least three teams that are very competitive and Ferrari is one of them.
Q: If you could make one wish as Ferrari team principal, what would it be?
SD: Thats easy: repeat our title-winning form of 2007!