The President and CEO of F1 spoke with the Italian press to outline the path ahead: confidence in Monza to keep the Italian GP, encouragement to Scuderia because the GP audience is changing and following drivers more than brands, making Hamilton’s renewal vital. Positive on the budget cap but in favor of sporting penalties. Stefano wants no talk of BoP but believes intervention on the cars is needed to reduce spray in wet races.
On the eve of the Monza weekend, Stefano Domenicali addressed the current topics, starting with the Italian Grand Prix, which, as tradition dictates, always hangs in the balance.
The CEO of Liberty Media explained what today’s requirements are to look at the calendar without stress, suggesting that the game is wide open, provided promises are kept.
Domenicali commented on the significance of Lewis Hamilton’s renewal, the news of the day, as well as Ferrari’s role in a Formula 1 that is undergoing a transformation. There is confidence in the financial regulations, no temptation for a ‘balance of performance,’ but an urgent issue to reduce problems related to wet races.
Monza, Present, and Future
“We must thank the circuit operators because, after the extensive damage to the facilities caused by the weather in July, they have been racing against time to ensure the conditions for hosting the race weekend. It was not a given; we know that in August it’s not easy to rely on achievements, but the effort has been remarkable. Regarding the future, they confirmed to me that the necessary renovation work on the facility will begin after the Grand Prix. This is an important step because next year it’s necessary to send a signal of improvement. The historical importance of Monza is unquestionable, but it’s also essential to keep up with the times in terms of services, which must be in line with the prices paid by those who come to the racetrack. By next year, we will have a clear idea of the future.”
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The Example of Zandvoort
“Some countries have made substantial investments, creating infrastructure in line with their financial capabilities. But there are other aspects that weigh on the evaluation of an event, and I believe that in terms of entertainment, what we saw last weekend in Zandvoort is an excellent example. The way they entertained the audience was incredible.”
Imola and Monza
“There is a matter that will be addressed shortly, and that is understanding the future of Formula 1 in Italy. We need to understand if there are the resources to keep two Grand Prix on the calendar, or if we will focus on just one. I want to thank Imola because the organizers were ready to seize an opportunity in a difficult time like the Covid period, proving themselves up to the challenge they took on.”
“We want to keep them stable. Although today we have ‘sold out’ in a large part of the circuits we visit, we want to send an important signal. So, we have asked to maintain current prices in the future, without succumbing to increases.”
The Influence of Ferrari
“There is an audience, like in Italy or neighboring countries, that faithfully follows Ferrari. But there is also another global audience, and this is changing. Just look at the color of the stands around the world, and we see many differences compared to a few years ago; drivers are influencing a new generation of fans with their personalities, social media presence, and a kind of direct contact with the fan base. Ferrari remains, of course, an extraordinarily iconic team, and personally, I hope they can return to the top soon. A competitive Ferrari benefits the entire system, reviving fans who may have lost interest.”
“I am very happy about Lewis’ decision; he is an extraordinary driver, and I believe that today he has only one goal: the eighth world title. I am sure he feels in great shape, has a lot of confidence in the team, and from a sporting point of view, it’s nice to know that he is there. Furthermore, Lewis has managed to connect Formula 1 with very different worlds, which is undoubtedly positive news for Formula 1 as a whole.”
Wet Races and Mudguards
“Formula 1 is, and will remain, an open-wheel championship. However, there is an ongoing discussion because we have never had as many wet races as in recent years, and the issue of visibility that drivers have in rainy conditions needs to be addressed. There are no grip problems; I believe that in the future, a single type of wet tires may be sufficient. We saw the start with intermediates at Zandvoort, and it worked, but the visibility issue remains. We will consider ‘mudguards,’ systems that can limit the spray phenomenon, also assessing the possibility of intervening on the diffuser exit. It’s an important issue; if we think about the audience coming to watch a race, we must limit the possibility of a Grand Prix being interrupted.”
Balance of Performance
“With the current cars, it’s impossible to apply a BoP system; it’s something that Formula 1 has always avoided by embracing the logic of development. I am convinced that it is right to give teams the possibility to respond by working on their own cars. Personally, I never dismiss any idea a priori, but the BoP is not a topic on the table. It resurfaces from time to time, but I repeat, I would like to see teams react and operate even with the constraints of the budget cap.”
Confidence in the Budget Cap
“We are in the second year of the financial regulations, and I want to be positive because I see positive elements. Financial stability has greatly increased the teams’ valuations, but as always happens when a new and complex variable is introduced, the system needs to be equipped to manage it, and all parties involved must be able to do so. Credibility comes through the guarantee that everything is controlled in the smallest detail, and in case of infringement, there must be an exemplary sporting penalty, a punishment that definitively discourages rule violations.”
No MotoGP Project
“Liberty is a company that constantly looks at new investments, but at this moment, if there is a plan involving the world of motorsport, my opinion is sought, and as far as I am concerned, I can say that there are no new developments.”