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Domenicali faces tifosi critics

NEWS STORY
23/10/2013

In a brave move, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali - who describes himself as 'the most sportsmanlike person in the world' - sat down with two highly opinionated fans.

The two, Riccardo Verdelli, a designer from Arezzo, and Gian Maria Lamberti, head of web marketing for a company in Mantua, both tifosi to the core, have made no secret of their frustration at the team's lack of success, making full use of social media to share that frustration. Therefore, when they were given the chance to sit down with Domenicali and vent that frustration they jumped at the chance.

"I don't like it when after a Grand Prix, there are incorrect jibes aimed at Red Bull that then fall apart. And then there's Alonso complaining about his car after every race. I'd like to see him get his ears pulled about that," said one, "but instead you almost seem to share his sentiment. On top of that, it's not nice that in Austin last year, you sabotaged Massa's gearbox to favour Alonso. Ferrari is a legend and certain slippery styles should be left to the others. There should be more sportsmanship."

"You are in front of the most sportsmanlike person in the world," replied Domenicali. "In all the races, whether you see it or not, I congratulate our rivals. In Austin, we did not sabotage the gearbox, but simply made the most of an article in the regulations which allowed us to break the seals. The interests of Ferrari come above all else: if we had lost the Championship by the number of points we'd have lost there, the evaluation of what we did would have been different.

"Unlike the others, we speak openly about what we are doing," he continued. "The little digs at Red Bull? It's a way of relieving the tension and making light of it, as is clear from the tone of it.

"Alonso? If I have something to say to him, as would be the case with my engineers, I would do it behind closed doors and in a harsh manner. But externally, I will always defend the team. When he crossed the line, president Montezemolo intervened and in private, so did I."

"Why have you kept Massa up until now?" asked the second 'interrogator', confirming the 'no pulled punches' spirit of the meeting which was organised by the team and Gazzetta dello Sport. "After the accident in 2009, for me he was no longer the same and I'm happy Raikkonen is coming back."

"There are two reasons," said Domenicali. "From a medical point of view, there is no proof that the accident left any permanent damage, such as problems with his sight or reflexes. And then there's the gentility which would demand that we give a driver who hasn't had much luck, the chance to show he deserves to stay with us. If Felipe was unable to deliver the performance we hoped for, it was mainly down to a hyper-sensitivity to a car that was too nervous at the rear, but in 2008, he almost took the title and I consider him as a world champion.

"We took Raikkonen because we wanted more," he added. "When we replaced him with Alonso, he was not happy and so he returns with a great desire to do well."

While Alonso celebrates his record 1571 points, for these two fans the more important milestone is the lack of an Italian driver in F1, particularly the 'national' team.

"Is Ferrari considering Italian drivers?" they asked. "Can you see someone suitable for F1 on the horizon?"

"We feel this responsibility," admitted Domenicali, "so we created the Academy for youngsters. With Antonio Fuoco and Raffaele Marciello, in whom we are investing, this year we have won two championships. Will they drive a Ferrari one day? I hope so. But we need to find the right categories to get there. Furthermore, it will be important to work with CSAI to produce a path for growth at an affordable price. We have started by creating F4 as the first step after karts."

"What has Red Bull got that you haven't?" asked Lamberti. "I've heard talk of strange mappings..."

"Everyone is trying to work that out," admitted the Ferrari team boss. "But it's pointless make accusations if there is no proof. The FIA can check the control unit, and if they find nothing than Red Bull is obviously doing a good job."

"After four years without winning the championship are you still sure about your choice of taking on Alonso?" asked Verdelli.

"If in the past four years we have come close to the title twice, it is partly down to him," said Domenicali. "Unfortunately, we have not been capable of giving him a car that matches his talent. You compare him to Vettel, but when you have a better car, everything is more straightforward."

Finally, as he prepares to contest the final round of the 2013 WRC, the question was asked: "Was there really the intention to take on Kubica and will he be back in F1?"

"Yes, we were keeping an eye on him," replied Domenicali. "Unfortunately, I don't think he will be back, because with his physical problem, he would struggle in certain limited situations which require reactivity. It's a shame."

It certainly is.

It was also a brave move on the part of Ferrari, and in particular Domenicali, to sit down and face the people.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Peter Rickitt, 25/10/2013 13:42

"How typical of Domenicali: he shows that there still a place in F1 for fundamentally decent people - an example certain others should follow. Alas, one wonders how long it will be before he is made to fall on his sword - doubtless the designers responsible for the poor car will not have made any mistakes in making the sword, but one can hope !"

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2. Posted by Skidmarks, 23/10/2013 16:14

"I thought it very brave of Sig. Domenicali to go against probably the fiercest critics of Ferrari when they are not winning: their own fans. these two have been very vocal in their criticism of the team. (Mentioned in the article.)
It is a shame that other team bosses are unlikely to face similar criticisms from their fans. It could be an interesting sequence of articles.
"

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3. Posted by Maria, 23/10/2013 11:03

"Preaching to the choir much?. I'll have more unfeigned respect if this was open to non-Ferrari fans as well. "

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