Straight talk

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Current page

181

Current page

182

Current page

183

Current page

184

Current page

185

Current page

186

Current page

187

Current page

188

Honour still exists in the F1 paddock – but is not always rewarded

Something was always going to happen once Luca di Montezemelo arrived in Bahrain full of show, pomp and pronouncements – and was then left embarrassed by how the thrilling race made a joke out of his criticisms of the new formula and, more particularly, how poorly the Ferraris performed. There was too much loss of face, too much tension for there not to be some major fall-out. Just over a week later Montezemelo accepted team principal Stefano Domenicali’s resignation. This was old-school Ferrari, a throwback to the days before Ross Brawn, Jean Todt and Michael Schumacher took the Latin heat out of the team’s coalface and rebuilt it in the image of a contemporary cutting-edge F1 entity.

Domenicali (right), who took over the reins in 2007, is a decent and honourable man who has always conducted himself with grace, humility and good humour. It was these qualities, together with Martin Whitmarsh taking over at McLaren from Ron Dennis, that thawed the awful relationship between those two teams.

Unlike some previous Ferrari bosses, the world of private jets and first-class travel was not for him. He took an interest in people and tried his best always. Maybe his best wasn’t good enough – under his command the team won the 2007 championship and was a final round contender in 2008, 2010 and 2012 – but it was he who decided so. The initial assumption of many was that he had been left with no alternative by chairman Montezemelo, but according to people inside the team this was not so: he sacrificed himself as an alternative to having to fire someone else. That’s just the way things roll at Ferrari now, like a throwback to the 1950s and ’60s. It had to be someone’s head so he chose to make it his own, to protect those below him.

Perhaps it was just in Stefano’s nature that he did not transcend the status of employee even when in the role of team principal. Perhaps he wasn’t allowed to. As you may have read in last month’s magazine, when Ross Brawn had joined Jean Todt and Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, they made a pact with each other that the senior management (i e Montezemelo) would not break their circle, that they would ensure they each had a clear space to run things the way they deemed necessary. It was clearly a frustration for the boss, even as the team enjoyed the longest run of success of any in history. So when Brawn, after taking his sabbatical in 2007, entered discussions with Montezemelo about coming back from ’08, he was spurned and Todt had already been dismissed. Domenicali was Montezemelo’s man, a good company employee who would do as requested. So it was never in Domenicali’s remit to act as a full team principal. Which has led to where it was inevitably going to; despite the limitations of the role placed upon him, Domenicali’s record was good. But under those terms it was never going to match the heights attained during the Brawn-Todt-Schumacher era.

Whether Domenicali had the forceful, ego-driven competitive personality required of a true F1 team principal is debatable; he probably was too nice a guy for that. But he was never given that opportunity, always had the straitjacket of employee around him. At one of Luca’s pre-season press conferences his answer to a question was interrupted by his mobile phone going off. He answered, said something about ‘Domenicali’ attending to the matter and with a dismissive wave handed the phone over to Stefano who jumped like an errand boy. It wasn’t dignified, and to have imagined Montezemelo treating Todt or Brawn in such a manner would have been unthinkable.

A few years ago Montezemelo offered Adrian Newey several million pounds per year to come and lead Ferrari’s aerodynamic department. Adrian turned him down and renewed his Red Bull deal. This coincided with the Ferrari boss making pronouncements about how F1 was too much about aerodynamics and that it should be more representative of road car technology, such as engines. Well, that’s exactly what we have now. The Ferrari F14T’s aero looks pretty damn good, its power unit less so. Well, with all those TV cameras pointed at Luca as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen were passed on the straights as if missing a plug lead, that had to be someone’s fault. Apparently it was Domenicali’s.

Related articles

Related products