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Domenicali still seeking added spice for F1

NEWS STORY
15/09/2022

F1 boss, Stefano Domenicali is determined to 'spice-up' F1, and hasn't given up on reverse grids.

When Stefano Domenicali was announced as the new CEO of F1, the move was warmly greeted by the paddock and fans alike.

This was a man who had spent 24 years with Ferrari, starting off in the finance department, then running the Mugello circuit, before returning to Maranello, initially as head of personnel in its sporting division.

There followed promotion to the role of team manager, logistics manager and sporting director before finally being appointed director of the F1 team, the role having previously been held by Jean Todt.

Leaving Ferrari in 2014 he joined Audi, whilst also being appointed head of the FIA's single-seater commission. Two years later he left Audi to join Lamborghini as CEO.

In late 2020, at the height of the COVID pandemic he was appointed CEO of the Formula One Group, replacing Chase Carey.

Here is a man who has F1 in his DNA, who has racing fuel - albeit sustainable - instead of blood… our sport was going to be in good hands.

Or so we thought.

Since taking over at F1, Domenicali has become Mr Corporate, yet another man in grey seemingly determined to wring every last cent out of the sport, while forgetting what caused him to fall in love with it in the first place.

Indeed, only last month, amidst growing fears over the direction the sport is taking, he insisted he was not selling the sport's soul, only to subsequently suggest that there should only be one 'traditional' free practice session, with an element of competition, most likely by means of awarding points, introduced to any other sessions ahead of qualifying.

"Free practice is very interesting for the engineers or for the drivers," he said, "but at the end of the day, in sport, you need to fight for something.

"There are already limitations on the calendar to have free practice outside of the racing weekend. So I will be very aggressive to have one free practice in the morning on Friday and then every time we go on the track, something to be awarded. Because in that respect, there is some action going on, people are always connected to understand what is happening.

"So this will be my input for the discussion on the future. Every time we will be on the track - with the respect of the race on Sunday, that has to be always the most important part of it - there should be something to fight for in terms of points, in terms of awards. That's my opinion.

"I would like to see any single session apart from the first, maybe, on the track to award something. This is something that I'm really keen to discuss with the drivers and the teams and of course with the FIA, because I think that will add the intensity that everyone wants to see when you are on the track."

Sadly, a month later, he has doubled-down on the need for added spice and hasn't ruled out reverse grids.

"You have to try," he tells Corriere della Sera. "There are always many excuses not to do it, it is a life principle. Purists will always turn up their noses up, but over the years F1 has changed the way of qualifying dozens of times. It is something that cannot be postponed, to ensure we have even more of a show.

"I would like there to always be a fight for something that counts for the title," he adds. "We will address this issue in the next F1 Commission, the fans, the organisers, everyone wants that. The sprint was just the first example, which can be improved.

"Each session there should be points up for grabs or single qualifying laps or qualifying for a Saturday race, different and shorter, instead of the third free practice, maybe with the reversed grid mechanism.

"We are putting a lot of things on the table. Many say no, but we have seen on some occasions the beauty of having reshuffled grids in the race, there is more overtaking. We have an obligation to try."

Of course, one only has to point to the significant reshuffling of the grid at Spa and Monza to see that reversing the order doesn't necessarily mean great racing.

Furthermore, as one looks at the continuing criticism of the FIA over the decision not to red flag Sunday's Grand Prix, are we alone in thinking that Domenicali and his fellow shills at F1 Towers might see the potential for changing the actual race format moving forwards.

Sadly, that passionate man who oversaw the 2008 constructors' title at Ferrari, and almost guided Fernando Alonso to a third (and fourth) title, seems a lifetime ago.

It's like the person that falls in love, professes to relish their partner's every little quirk, all their little foibles, then suddenly sets about trying to change them.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by The stogie, 30/09/2022 0:58

"'spice up the action'? The first step to 'spice up' things is to get rid of the brain-dead 'track limits' club racing nonsense. Want to sell tickets? Let 'em race!! After all these are, reputedly, the BEST drivers in the world!!"

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2. Posted by kenji, 18/09/2022 1:04

"@ Elsiebc...Alvarezh3 I very much doubt that you'll be seeing Martin Brundle anywhere near a grid in 2045. A reverse grid for the main race would have some even more determined drivers and teams that do share a possible chance at better results rather than those who only take random grid drops for new parts and or penalties. Personally I don't know whether it would work or not but I do support a few test races so that I can find out. Supposition is only so good...."

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3. Posted by alvarezh3, 17/09/2022 5:33

"@ elsiebc

Yes, I see your point. You could or be, probably right. I am just saying, if they want to try and reinvent the wheel......be my guest. Maybe they have a hidden card I am not being shown, l'm open to see what they come up with."

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4. Posted by elsiebc, 17/09/2022 2:42

"@alvarezh3 and kenji It doesn't need to be tested, we already have situations of cars out of order and we see what happens - drivers focus on their races and let the others by. I personally don't find that exciting. If you do then answer me this: which pass did Max at Spa is Martin Brundle going to ask him about when he sees Max on a grid walk 22 years from now?"

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5. Posted by kenji, 16/09/2022 14:08

"@ Alvarezh3...thanks for the response. 8 negatives is not a record and to a large extent is water off a duck's back! What it shows is how unwilling some followers are to test the possibilities that some of the big names may not be really big names after all. We've seen how some drivers are perfectly capable of driving from the back to the front lately so reverse grids should show some relativity. What is does do is make those who have the fastest cars work a bit harder in order to justify the big points. In other words, continuously prove that they are the very best and that their advantage of having a superior car does not always mean wins and podiums. I do think that some teams, like some fans, are worried that their drivers/teams will be seriously challenged......"

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6. Posted by Spindoctor, 16/09/2022 13:51

"My suggestion, from several years ago, would have a similar effect, but produce much more "spectacle".
The fastest Driver(s) - in order - have to pit, change into a clown suit, then resume the race. That way the "Team" can make a big contribution to performance - setting record changing times etc.

This need only be the start. We could see Drivers having to do a Lap of the track before returning to their cars - the potential variations are endless - think too of the opportunities for synergy between F1 and Fashion\Athletics\cycling\Football etc! Think of the sponsorship potential from McDonalds & any number of other businesses."

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7. Posted by Paulinho, 16/09/2022 10:09

"Having watched F1 since 1984, I think maybe it's worth a try (it'll add to the show lol).

One way you could do it to encourage teams to actually set a fast pole time, is work out a reward system, i.e. 15 points for pole, then have a race pass progression reward i.e. pass 5 cars and gain 1 point etc. You would have to do the math's to make it worthwhile as opposed to actually going slow, and offsetting those points in the race by winning, but it could work. "

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8. Posted by yakker, 16/09/2022 9:35

"Don't forget it is a constructors championship as well. Reverse grids then penalise the designers and engineers that do the best job. How do you intend to police the reverse grid? Slow lap time, pole position, my DRS wasn't working, I messed up turn 2, my seat belts were loose etc. Then we reach the circuits were a pile up in the first corner is a possibility, with a reverse grid becomes a certainty. Haas or Williams on pole will not get them a win.

Handicap system. Ok take the lap time work out the full race time and set the cars off at set time gaps (bracket times in drag racing terms) and all cars should finish at the same time. No thankyou.
Touring car approach, winners car carries extra weight to slow down the car, again penalises the better car/driver combo.

Better distribution of prize money giving the slower teams a bit more cash could improve their cars. Try and get that past Ferrari.
"

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9. Posted by alvarezh3, 16/09/2022 3:52

"@Kenji

Wellcome to the club!

There are people from all walk of life in the net, some cannot find enough opportunities to bash someone, it probably has happened to most of us and will continue to do so.

I don't always agree with everyone's opinions yet that's not an excuse to give anyone a negative, of course that is easier than getting a hold of the keyboard and explain why someone's opinion is -according to one's way of thinking or reasoning- in disagreement to one's personal one. I guess that's a result of our changing societies's values where everything must be "easy" or done with the least amount of effort.

BTW, I don't like the idea of reverse grids, but I am open to see what happens. What would really bother me is, if the experiment is a failure, they keep it anyways just to evade being faulted.

G'day"

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10. Posted by kenji, 16/09/2022 2:28

"Wow...eight negatives for even 'suggesting' a trial run!!! No one has yet debated the likelihood of seeing some competitive action as a result of a reverse grid test...or two. Let it be quite clear, I'm only suggesting that the idea be tested thoroughly to see if it results in better racing. It may and then again it may not. Closed minds should never be the default option. When was the last time anyone saw a Williams/Haas/Sauber on the top step of the podium? Even reverse grids do not guarantee this but the chances of it are certainly enhanced beyond the status quo."

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11. Posted by alvarezh3, 15/09/2022 23:10

"Reverse grid? How would the FIA prevent the cars from purposely qualifying slow in order to be given a forward grid starting position? Unless they give me 25 points as the top qualifier (and for those down the line behind me), I would never get out of 1rst gear. :>)
I am all eyes and ears ready for that first (and possibly chaotic) reverse grid qualifying, it will be fun for sure. :>)"

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12. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 15/09/2022 18:33

"@kenji, the reason the fastest cars start at the pointy end of the grid is supposed to be for safety reasons, however I do see that reason now being questioned with SPA and Monza having some of the fastest cars starting at the back and no damage done.
F2 seem to make a partial reverse grid option work however their cars are all the same and quite close in times.
I wouldn't put it past F1's current bunch to return to three abreast at least for those starting out of the top 10 to give some advantage to "spice up the show"."

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13. Posted by elsiebc, 15/09/2022 17:11

"Reverse grids will make for more passing, that's a given. Just witness the passing that happens when cars start "out of position" and a known faster car comes upon a known slower car. It passes. Mick knows that his race isn't with Max and to fight will delay the inevitable and negatively affect his races with Yuki and Pierre. If passing is what you want, go take a six pack, some snacks, and sit by the nearest freeway. I prefer to see racing."

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14. Posted by kenji, 15/09/2022 0:25

"I have always thought that races were, to a very large extent, unfairly run insofar as the fastest car in quali started in first place on the grid and all other [ slower ] cars/drivers race win/points paying chances were basically determined before the lights went out. Reverse grids ensure that the fastest cars do not get a 'rails run' and they have to work to win. All the blah blah blah about other teams needing to up their game is just that. The top three have been the top three for aeons. Teams like Williams/Sauber/ Haas know that they have zip chance of winning or even getting points before they even arrive at the venue...where's the challenge in that? I raced short ocean yacht races for years and the handicap system was pretty damn good. As we were usually scratch boat and every win we took further time was added to our handicap in the next race. Virtually every race would see on average 6/10 boats within minutes of each other when we went across the line. Real hard work and hard racing over 40kms. Reverse grids could be tested just to see how it would all pan out. If it fails then so be it but if it gives us a few upset results then a point would be proved and hard working teams would get a benefit...and so would the fans."

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15. Posted by KKK, 14/09/2022 20:56

"When media Liberty bought the rights from Bernie he started the downward spiral, Bernie was no saint, but he made sure tht F1 was what the people wanted, and he made a container ship load of dollars.Then the moustacheoed Chase Carey was replaces as he had no real knowledge of what it takes to run F1, and he was replaced by Domenicali. We all cheered, F1 is on the way back! NOPE. Its going the other way, quickly. What does he think he will achieve? Wander if he on a long contract and he gets paid regardless of what happens to F1? YUP"

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