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Domenicali denies "selling the soul of F1"

NEWS STORY
23/08/2022

F1 boss Stefano Domenicali has denied that he is selling the soul of F1 by dropping classic venues in favour of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Las Vegas.

While Drive to Survive continues to win over new fans, there is no doubt that many of the 'old guard' are losing their faith in Formula One.

The events of Abu Dhabi haven't helped, but generally there is a feeling that under the current management it's all about the money, that passion is now merely a buzzword.

As the teams reassemble at Spa Francorchamps to resume hostilities, there is every chance that this is the last time the classic track hosts a round of the world championship, certainly on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, as other favourite tracks face a similar fate or the possibility of being used on a rotational basis, the sport has gone into Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two countries with infamous records on Human Rights. Then there's Miami and Las Vegas, two events when the sport is actually the promoter.

Appointed to the role of CEO at the height of the pandemic, former Ferrari boss, Stefano Domenicali was a popular choice with the teams and fans due to his long experience in the sport, however just two years later there are increasing doubts about the direction the sport has taken under his leadership.

"I am not selling the soul of Formula 1," he tells Germany's Bild newspaper. "That is a natural change, we are opening up to the whole world.

"Money is important everywhere. For us too," he adds. "But we don't just look at it, the whole package has to be right. If we only looked at the bank account, the racing calendar would definitely look different."

Of course, one classic track brought back to the calendar during the pandemic has agreed a new deal keeping it on the calendar until 2025, but sceptics might argue that the fact that a certain CEO was born and raised there played a part.

With Ferrari during the golden era of Michael Schumacher's domination of the sport, Domenicali well remembers when F1's popularity in Germany meant there were two races there each year.

Subsequently, between 2008 and 2014 the German Grand Prix alternated between Hockenheim and the Nurburgring, but with the latter unable to meet the hosting fees between 2016 and 2019 just three Grands Prix were held all at Hockenheim, yet during the pandemic, when it was essentially 'all hands on deck', and even when Russia was dropped from this year's schedule, despite Mercedes eight-year domination of the sport, Germany wasn't considered.

"If I don't make a call myself, I see and hear little from Germany," says Domenicali. "They talk, talk, talk, but in the end, you need facts.

"It's a mystery to me how you can't build a business around a Grand Prix these days," he adds. "But if they get it right, we will have a race in Germany again."

Referring to the fact that the 2019 event, the most recent in Germany, only went ahead after Mercedes agreed to cover the costs - a decision it no doubt came to regret when one considers how badly the race went for the team, Domenicali insists: "The Grand Prix has to be worthwhile for all sides. We can't cover all the costs."

While he may have left the door slightly ajar for Germany, Domenicali is in no doubt about Russia's return to the schedule.

"I always say never say never," he says, "but in this case, I can promise. We will not have any more negotiations with them. There will be no more racing there."

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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 24/08/2022 11:18

"I know we all love the sound & fury of V8's, 10's & 12's, but you can't (as the cliche has it) swim in the same river twice. To put it another way: been there, done that, got the Tee-Shirt.

Love 'em or hate 'em the current tiddly V6 "Power Units" are technological wonders which require (or required) novel thinking and ingenuity to perfect. Something that the self-styled "pinnacle" of Motor Sport needs if it is not to be merely another formula wiyth little or nothing to distinguish it from the rest.

The cost caps & increasingly rigid technical rules are in danger of either pushing F1 down a route towards common or shared components (PUs aside) - the logical end-run of which is a one-design series, or cars which are simply not very "special". Either way F1's individuality is sacrificed to commercial interests, "drama" and cheepnis. Andretti would feel very much at home in such a Formula."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Endre, 22/08/2022 19:33

"Over the years there were lots of talks about a potential breakaway series but it has always been considered from the F1 teams' point of view. In my dreams I could see some of these abandoned organizers join forces to actually make it happen with partially standardized cars somewhat similar to Indy but more freedom. They could really resurrect the sport without all this green-washing, hypocrisy and unneeded wokeism.

Wouldn't it be nice to hear and see v8 or v10's running free again on the circuits of Spa, Monaco, Hockenheim, Nürburgring, etc.?"

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Spindoctor, 22/08/2022 13:54

"@Burton: Quite so. It's a total mystery how anybody (other than Liberty) manages to make any money out of hosting a Grand Prix...."

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4. Posted by Apexing, 22/08/2022 13:42

"@ Max Noble - Yeah, definitely getting a parasitic vibe from him. He needs to keep the host alive, after all..."

Rating: Positive (4)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by KKK, 22/08/2022 13:17

"More like F1 has no soul to sell anyway. "

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6. Posted by alvarezh3, 22/08/2022 13:11

"Some of you may remember how a few years back there were some promoters/track owners that suggested that in order to use their premises, they should be paid, not the other way around. Nothing came of it but, isn't that what Liberty is currently going to do in Las Vegas, and partially does in Miami?
Maybe it's time the promoters/track owners restart their conversations again, specially after Liberty's new track/promoting deals that discriminate against those fully paying to have races on their tracks."

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7. Posted by Burton, 22/08/2022 11:35

""It's a mystery to me how you can't build a business around a Grand Prix these days,"... what, has Liberty modified the model of "you pay dozens of millions for the race but get no cut of trackside advertising and hospitality, eventhough they physically happen on your land"?!"

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8. Posted by Malemoi, 22/08/2022 9:13

"He's destroying the heritage of the sport :(. The travel costs to some of these venues makes a joke of cost capping "

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9. Posted by Max Noble, 22/08/2022 7:47

"Reading the article sounds more like a Vampire, than a Soul Salesman… Bleed them until it hurts, but not until it kills them…"

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