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The Domenicali Affair

FEATURE BY MAURIZIO QUARTA
03/05/2014

Maurizio Quarta looks at Stefano Domenicali's resignation from an Italian perspective, noting that "everything concerning Ferrari is an affair in Italy"

A couple of weeks and a semi-successful Grand Prix in China, have passed since Stefano Domenicali's sudden and partially unexpected resignation from the Ferrari Group: now that the initial emotional reactions have settled down, we can try to take a general outlook at the reactions from an Italian point of view.

A good starting point, is the timely survey by La Gazzetta dello Sport, which let us feel and perceive the sentiment of Ferrari fans.

The results give no space for discussion: according to the great majority of those that took part (almost two-thirds) the decision was correct but late… he should have before!. Indeed, the Maranello team should have followed McLaren's example in terms of Martin Whitmarsh, fired with no fuss and no real headlines just before the start of the new season.

This is also totally in line also with the comments coming from local magazines in Modena, traditionally very good in getting the true feelings surrounding the Prancing Horse.

Back to the survey; another third, half split between those judging the decision right and those evaluating it as non-influential, believe that the impact will be very limited, either because others are the real problem affecting Maranello, or because of the realistic difficulties in changing direction now that the season is underway.

In reality it is difficult to expect any other gut feeling from people for whom Ferrari is a religion for whom anything other than first place is a "fiasco". More than once we heard Montezemolo himself stating: "we are the only team where a second place is not enough", which is by the way "the magic of Ferrari".

In in the days before the announcement, much of the mainstream was of the opinion that Domenicali would leave at the end of the season, which would have represented the natural end of a cycle that began in 2008.

In general, the most influential newspapers have claimed that the Domenicali period at Ferrari (albeit with the minimum score), albeit with a few more points, would have become part of the team's success story had things gone slightly differently. Indeed, one recalls three unlucky episodes that marked his period in charge: Massa in Brazil 2008, Alonso in 2012, Abu Dhabi in 2013.

Ferrari's reaction has been seen and interpreted as hasty and dictated by gut and emotions - some recalling the Fiorio episode in 1991, when he left after four Grands Prix - more typical and appropriate to the football environment. The word used by Marco Mattiacci is 'turnaround', which is very much consistent with his business background and culture. But the fact is that in the business background, and also in football - which is, after all, business in the end - a new CEO, or a new coach, has many options to work with: normally, many/most of the first line managers are fired and replaced, players as well can be sold and bought. In F1 there is a very restricted space for such action: the car is practically "frozen" in compliance with the new rules, new (top) people cannot be hired in a reasonably short timeframe due not only to the limited number of top people available but also the numerous non-competition clauses and gardening periods to be dealt with.

However, it was not only the reaction that was unexpected, but also the name of Mattiacci which caught the press off guard, including journalists traditionally very close to Maranello and with supposedly good sources there. Indeed, before the announcement, the name on everyone's lips was Antonello Coletta, a direct 'descendent' of Domenicali and Ross Brawn.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by lymehall, 25/05/2014 23:40

"This months Motorsport has two excellent articles, one on the Domenicali affair, totally different from your report. The other about the Mercedes F1 car for 2014 and how it was organized. Great to compare the two approaches!!"

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2. Posted by Carugatese, 06/05/2014 14:22

"A quite exhausting article, well explaining the scenario: write Mattiacci, read Marchionne.
"

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3. Posted by ape, 03/05/2014 23:26

"I can't understand all the fuss in Italy , let it be clear that the last world champion driver in a real Ferrari was Jody Scheckter 35 years ago.
Schumacher and Kimi were driving a red "Benetton " after Todt bought all the top Benetton boys.
"

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4. Posted by Jet Jockey, 03/05/2014 12:52 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 03/05/2014 12:54)

"This comment was removed by an administrator as it was judged to have broken the site's posting rules and etiquette."

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