Q & A with Stefano Domenicali
Ferrari officially kicked off its 2011 season on Wednesday, with the begining of its Wrooom event in the Dolomites
Team principal Stefano Domenicali was the first man to face the media, and AUTOSPORT was there.
Q. Two questions: How do you see 2011, and when you launch the new car?
Stefano Domenicali: For 2011 our goals is very clear, that we are aiming to win both the titles, constructors' and drivers' titles, this must be the goal of our team. And so the expectations, that of being able to have a car competitive from the start, a reliable car, a strong car, and I have to say that we've seen this last year. If you're not perfect within such a competitive environment, with opponents that are so strong with teams, which also varied numerically, then it becomes difficult to win.
So the goal is that of being better than last year, especially in terms of performance, with a car which must be competitive from the start, it must be reliable - as it was reliable last year - but improved where possible because with every reliability you make a breakthrough, and we must be perfect in interpreting the events which take place during races, because also from this point of view we do not make mistakes.
The second question: when is the car going to be presented? Maranello, 28th of January. After that, if the time allow it, since we have new workers on the team, what you see here, the (gentleman) on my left, [name unclear) will try to make the, you know, first prepare the commercial material, but then otherwise we will go directly to the first test in Valencia, which in the first week we're going to have Fernando, the third day Felipe, and after that we will continue with second tests in Jerez.
Barcelona, and Bahrain. So the car that you are going to see at the launch is not going to be the car which is going to start in Bahrain, meaning that we are going - as all the teams will do - to evolve the car until the last race. You will see some things that will be surely different during the first race on March 13th. So we're presenting the 28th January, Maranello.
Q.We read in the newspapers about changes within your team. If you could kindly tell us something about this, give us some extra details about this.
SD: As we have said last week, we wanted a change, the track (operation) is going to be headed by of Mr Fry, who is going to be the person who has to take the decisions of the management of the drivers on the racetrack in terms of strategies. And we have created a new direction within the technical direction (Operations Research) reporting to Aldo Costa, so we have a group of persons who are going to have to work to improve on the simulations, simulations that have to be given to the engineers.
But they are going to be responsible for the decisions, so Pat Fry is going to be responsible for the decisions being taken. Operations Research is going to improve, let's say, is going to integrate the decisions of the simulator, the wind tunnel, and the designers, so that, let's say, a broader task which adds itself to design, aerodynamics, to the team, the structural calculations in the team dedicated to manufacturing. So they all undertake within some of the technical directorate and other calls, so nothing has changed from this point of view.
Q.Let's speak about politics. There's some grey areas vis-a-vis the budget of the teams, the limits, and the definitions of what can and cannot be spent. And further on, if you can tell me something about the use in 2013 of the 4-cylinder engines.
SD: So for the thresholds of the expenditures, I can speak about our situation, I have to say we continue to do this, we respected what has been set by FOTA in the budget which has been set. And I think that this has been a major achievement by FOTA to go in the direction of cost reduction. From this point of view, it has been a stimulus. And I have to say that the major teams, and us in particular, we have accepted this challenge, and we've gone in the right direction in terms of the overall expenditures in F1.
If you want to speak of the rumours which came out over the past few days, I think that FOTA as an organisation has the tools to make the necessary verifications, the necessary assessments, to discuss them in forthcoming meetings. I speak only of the facts that I know, so I know what we do, but we respect, and I that's the only thing I can say. As for the rest, FOTA is going to go through the details of certain issues which must be analysed. There are some agreements which have been undersigned, and they must be respected by all. As for the engine of 2013, let's say that this has been agreed officially in the (World Motorsport) Council in December.
Of course, we're doing all that is necessary, because we have to try some approach which is totally new from this point of view. The budget has been defined, and clearly this is a project which is against Ferrari's desire in terms of the number of cylinders, it is not what we prefer as a company, but this is a decision that was taken by the Federation (FIA), and we have tried to work on it from the start, because we do not have much time. We have to decide in such an important field when we have to invest a lot or maybe too much vis-a-vis that specific goal.
Don't forget that Formula 1 now lives (exists) because for the minute there are four manufacturers, which give engines to other teams, so it is important to behave in such a way at first, before we get to having other suppliers of engines, the ones that are here should remain. Otherwise F1 would stop. So it is important to work during this transition period until 2013, so this project may be one that should - by the way, it's a project which is a priority, it should be based also on the noise of Formula 1 engines.
Our fans want this, and so our technicians have to work on this. Then clearly, as for the decision vis-a-vis this type of power unit, when I think that this has been decided so as to bring the industry closer to the world of Formula 1. But we have to be careful, because the race is also for other values. And for us there is a link between innovation and technology. For instance, the world of car manufacturing is fundamental, so certain components of this new project, such as the turbo is interesting for us, because there's something which is going to (also apply to) future models of our street vehicles.
Q.We have read that you have thought about abandoning your position (as Sporting Director), but then you continued. So from a personal point of view, how do you feel - do you feel strong for this new year, do you want vengeance after what happened?
SD: No, I feel well. The designers that are doing well, because we have all of the elements to be able to do what our team deserves. As far as my motivation is concerned, I can guarantee you that the entire team is positive-minded. We are approaching a new season with enthusiasm, the right enthusiasm, and I think that it is fundamental, especially at the start, to start by putting aside - from a psychological point of view - by putting aside the last race in Abu Dhabi.
It's like a tennis player who does a bad match, or someone who shoots a penalty and makes a mistake, you go back to, you know, on the field, you mustn't have a trembling hand or a trembling foot. You have to go back in and play. So on my part, what I did and what I'm going to do is to work on some psychological (aspects), because from a technical point of view we have some engineers who know what they have to do, but they have to show it of course with facts. From our point of view we have to set up a clean team, clean in terms of having (no) fears. It is human, of course, that one may have fears after a bad race such as the Abu Dhabi race.
But I repeat - as of 2010, let's take home especially the second half of the season. Fernando's season was fantastic, because you know better than me that there is no one who in May or in June would have bet 1 lira on getting to Abu Dhabi with a Ferrari in the fight to win the World Championship. And I think that we all have to be honest among ourselves. And so it has been a great demonstration of concentration and of coldness (coolheadedness), despite the pressures against us. So this is the approach which characterizes the men of Maranello, and of myself who represents them.
Q.Let me go back for a second to the political issues. There are rumours on the KERS of the cars, which are being interpreted a bit 'elastically'. Is this, do you think, true or not? Second, HRT, which is now outside of FOTA. Don't you think this is a dangerous wedge within FOTA? Don't you think this team can be used by others to break up the Federation?
SD: Let me start with the second question: maybe. As FOTA, you know I am no longer the deputy chairman of FOTA, the chairman is Martin Whitmarsh and in the next few days we are going to discuss the (position of) deputy chairman, but I think that it's going to be fundamental to set the goals which must be discussed on a yearly basis. Because now as we've seen, that has changed. That has changed quite rapidly. As far as FOTA's concerned, FOTA is going to continue to work in those areas in which, I repeat, it does a very good job. Meaning that we have to go even more into the details of this, so as to avoid some grey areas which are not positive for the credibility of FOTA and also for the credibility of Formula 1.
There are some - this is normal - who try to exploit these scenarios to generate something negative against the association, against FOTA. It is not going to be possible to clear this up, but I am convinced that we are going to be able to find a solution, but to do so we are going to have to review the principles of the basis of FOTA. As instead, for the KERS issue, we should recall the different steps and to see how the KERS has been approached in terms of the decisions that have been made by the various teams. Clearly, from this point of view we have always been consistent. We're among the teams who used it in 2009, we are going to use it again in 2011, and we have tried to define some limits in what we're going to spend on it.
As for the relationship between customer and supplier - so how much the supplier of the KERS can ask to their customers - for the sales price, well clearly this is part of the decision that is going to be taken by each single company. We - as we've always done with our customers in the past - this is a strategic decision on our part; we're going to maintain the research and development costs within our company. Other companies that are going to provide the KERS are going to use a different policy, and unfortunately we cannot comment on this - it is a decision taken by them, and you have to respect it as a decision taken by these companies.
Q.To go back to Abu Dhabi, I wanted to know - the day after the race, which was your priority, was it to discuss with people, to try and understand already what happened, to re-motivate them, or were you quite alone, and some other people alone? Did some people wanted to dismiss ... just the atmosphere right after the event, and then we don't talk about it?
SD: Okay, the last time. As you can imagine, it's a situation where it's like, you know, the final of the World Cup, when we were in Germany. If you were in the dressing room of the first team, I think you can imagine what was the atmosphere. But, thanks god we were in the other dressing room in that period. But I think that for sure the atmosphere was very down, because we felt that we had an opportunity to take back (home) what was on the table, and it was a big pity for all of us. But first of all, in that moment, it was important straight after the race to try to keep the cool, because it is easy - very easy - in that moment to follow the emotion that is around and you have inside.
This is something that I tried to avoid, above all in front of my people, and I have to say that the president (Montezemolo) was very good because he was living that event together with us. But then our priorities are for sure to understand the reason of the choice in order to prevent, in order to make sure that in the same kind of situation to take the right decision instead of to take the wrong ones. Then priority number one is to keep the motivation to all the people, because it is normal that after that people will try to go down, and we cannot give the advantage to our competitors about it. This for me is the most important thing.
The more you cry, the more you use the bad against you, and the more you give your competitors the advantage. So I said, 'so listen guys, one day I can understand, two days is enough to give the advantage to the others'. So I think the reaction of all the people after that was good. And I have to thank - I'm very honest with you in that respect - all the people that supported us, our main sponsors, our partners, and also all the tifosi, all the supporters that sent to us - you cannot believe, but this is the fact - thousands of emails and letters to keep on fighting and believing in ourselves, that was fantastic.
So also for that, the reaction was immediate, and people started to work straight away in the new car and we started to improve the organisation and to look ahead. Because this is life. In sport you can lose, you have to be sure (prepared), some people are not sure when they win, which is worse, but this is part of the game. And it's important to take the negative points in order to change to positive for the future. And this is my role, and I trust in the people that work with us, because of course it's a good team. And I'm sure that they will deliver a good result.
Q.Two questions. The first is on some rumours according to which one team has developed a system similar to the F-duct, in any case, they have designed something similar. Do you know something about this?
SD: No. If we have some information given to us we will try to go into the details of this now. Honestly, I know nothing about it. There is a lot of silence around the projects for the various teams, for the various cars, because clearly there are many changes - many changes - in the regulations, but not many rumours are circulating. So honestly, we have to be extremely careful, but vis-a-vis the question that you address, we have no information on this.
Second question, again on the regulations, the rear wing flap, I've seen there are some grey areas. For example, the fact that the signal gives the indication if it can be used or not during the direction of the race. I think that this something may suit itself to some mistakes, perhaps. As for the principle of the rear wing flap, all the teams in the Federation are going to still have to tackle some of the details, some of the operational details which are important. First of all, this is a new system which has to be understood, and for the time being it's all on paper, it has just been simulated in the wind tunnel.
There is something fundamental which characterizes the positivity of this mechanism, which should favour overtaking, and the activation is based on the definition, because it can be used on a specific part of the race track, and you can prepare it, as I said before of this, on the race track if you are a distance within the car before you. But this distance has to be defined. So there are some operational issues which still have to be defined.
They're going to be defined in the forthcoming weeks, and this is really going to determine the usefulness or not of this system. So some areas still have to be analysed. As for the fact that this is the right decision to favour overtakes, we will see. I have no forecasts vis-a-vis this issue. I think that there's going to be a learning curve, which will take some time. Also, the part of the Federation, because - I repeat - some loops are going to be necessary on the racetrack to determine the possibility of activating or not this system. And those in front won't be able to use it to defend themselves.
So those that are behind will be able to use it, those that are in front will not. Of course, this means that from a theoretical point of view, theoretically, this year the qualifying laps - also because of the tyres which are going to be slightly softer, greater degradation - so theoretically I repeat, we should have a scenario in which the qualifying laps should not be as fundamental as it was during this last season.
Those who started in front, if they did not have any mistakes, or unexpected Safety Cars, or whatever, the unexpected incidents, those who started in front usually brought home a positive result. Should these mechanisms work, and should we have softer tyres, should this be confirmed, we should have some races in which the results of the qualifying lap should not necessarily be the same as the results during the race. Should this happen, okay, maybe the show will be better.
If not, it will simply mean we have not done our work well. Because the fundamental problem about the fact that - I repeat - in 2010 we saw a season that was of course interesting and extremely competitive, because it never happened that up to four races from the end there were five drivers fighting for the championship, so from this point of view it was extraordinary as a season. But as far as overtaking was concerned on the racetrack, in normal conditions we did not see many. So surely this is something fundamental, this is something which we must work on so as to improve the situation in the future.
Q.Talking Pirelli, can you just give us an idea of the relationship between Pirelli and the teams? It came together very late; you've only had one test so far. Have they given you everything you require?
SD: In that respect I have to say first of all that we have to thank Pirelli, because we don't have to forget that without Pirelli, we are running on the rims. So that is a fundamental aspect not to be forgotten as a priority. Then of course they are in the process of a learning curve. They are a big company, the relationship for them it is essential that they have to be equal to all the teams, for they are a single supplier. We have settled down certain requests, that are basically the ones that all the teams wanted to achieve, and I have to say that I am confident that they will deliver a good product.
It seems that on the front side the tyres are already basically almost defined. On the rear tyres I think there are still some steps to do, but they are on the way to be done. The only aspect that I would say is still a question mark from my point of view is the fact that, due to the time, we have not done any tests with the wet ones, so we don't know how the wet and the old intermediate tyres will behave. This is something that, if you don't have the test and the rain together, it is difficult to do a test. So I'm expecting that in the case of a non-possibility to test the wet tyres it will be an interesting session, the first one that will be on the track.
That is for sure for them a test that they have set down for them, but from the team point of view, unless there will be a wet day during the four sessions, it will be impossible to test. So it will be a question of that side. Then there is also the other point on the wind tunnel tyres, that is a fundamental aspect that needs to have the right correlation between the development that you do in the wind tunnel versus the real effect, that the development that has been done in the wind tunnel is the right one on the track. And this is something where Pirelli is working very hard, because we know that the technology of the wind tunnel tyre is quite difficult, and it is an area where they focus a lot to make sure that they are able to provide to teams a good product.
Q.Second question, about the Concorde Agreement. We have less than two years before the current one expires. I believe that teams are going to look at this during the non-racing period to start formulating plans and strategies, etc., for the new Concorde. What progress has been made along those lines?
SD: I think that at the moment the situation has been very quiet, but I'm expecting that in the next couple of months, I would say for sure before June, the middle season of 2011, we will have some updates on that situation. Because for sure it is the responsibility of the teams to look ahead for the future. 2012 is tomorrow. And also for actual organising, the actual... Don't forget that the Concorde Agreement is a tripartite agreement. We have the FIA, we have the commercial rights holder, and the teams. So I think that for whatever reason, all the three parts are interested to find what is going to be the future of Formula 1. So I'm expecting on that that we'll have a very intense six months in front of us.
Q.Two questions. Can we go back, Stefano, for a second, to the presumed violations on the limitation of resources. Should something similar come out, would this bring into question the results of this last championship? And second, since it seems that the next season is going to be extremely complicated because of the change of regulations, also vis-a-vis the pressure from Abu Dhabi on you, and also for the quality of the competitions and so forth, there are surely going to be, I ask you, is this something that makes you optimistic for 2011?
SD: There are those who undersigned the agreement who have respected it, this is what I think. Then from a contractual point of view, what the agreement states - the one which has been undersigned by the teams - is, and I want to answer directly your question, there is not going to be an impact on the sporting event. Because it is an agreement taken by the teams, the Federation is not involved, since there is nothing which is - so to say - related to the sporting event being put into doubt. What is put into doubt is instead the correctness on the part of the team which should not fulfill this agreement.
In any case, it is stated that in the subsequent year after one has not respected the specific threshold set by the agreement, in subsequent years they should spend less. So the budget for the subsequent year has to be inferior. This is what the agreement states. We have all the mechanisms to verify this, it's a FOTA issue which is going to be discussed by the teams. As for the worry that you were saying, that you stated vis-a-vis 2011, as far as the management is concerned of the team, once you take a commitment to do something, you must do it. So we must do our best to try to be as competitive as possible within those limits.
As for the positive issues that I see for this new project as far as we are concerned, is the following. I hope, and I'm convinced that the experience that we developed with the KERS in 2009 should allow us to avoid those start-up problems that we also had in the past. But we shouldn't have these again. This is going to be true also for those that have had already this experience. But furthermore, I think that as far as the methodology that we implemented this last year - we've done so silently, but we've improved the correlation between what we do on the wind tunnel and what we do at the racetrack should allow us to achieve some improvements in performance. So from this point of view I am convinced that this should be something positive on which we can say that our car is going to be competitive from the start of the season, even if the opponents, I repeat, are very strong.
Q.As for how Fernando adjusted himself to the team, he adjusted himself very fast. But I want to ask you: what happened in the first part of the season? His second part of the season was fabulous, spectacular, so what do you expect for 2011 from Fernando, starting from race 1? And second, we speak a lot about Abu Dhabi, but last year there were some problems also in Germany, and the re-organization that has taken place - has it been done so that nothing like that is going to happen again? The radio communications, and so forth.
SD: As for the first question, I have to say that clearly we have some expectations. We're going to have a Fernando who's going to start from an extraordinary basis, meaning the second part of his season, which was perfect until the end. This is the basis on which we're going to work; we've got to know him, and the added value that he gave to the team has been extraordinary, it has been positive, and especially - let's say - the whole setting has improved. As for the changes in the organisation, I have to repeat this: last season, we have to be rational. We lost the championship because apart from the mistake in Abu Dhabi, for various reasons we have not collected important points in the first part of the season.
Those were heavy points which unfortunately characterised and brought us in those conditions at the end. We have to avoid that this is going to happen this year. As for the reorganization, this has always been to try to improve on all issues. It would be wrong, and it wouldn't be correct, to say that the changes are being made just for one specific reason. What we have done is linked, is related, to the fact that we have to improve on our flow, on our work-flow, and so we have tried to improve our organisation. But I repeat: we have done it as we've always done it every year, so as to improve with the group of persons who have responsibilities, not only on the race track.
Then, of course, on the race track in certain specific moments there is a major disability, but things have not changed only on the racetrack. So we are continuing with our approach without giving the fault to anyone, but simply we must have in our head the interests of the team, and as I said at the beginning, we have to be as perfect as possible, because in such a competitive environment, if you are not perfect it becomes difficult to win.
Q.You have now worked with Fernando for a season. From your point of view, what was the biggest difference compared to working with Kimi?
SD: The language! (laughs) No, I'm joking. I mean, for sure Kimi had a different approach with the team. As you know, he was a fantastic and very strong driver. I think that the way that Fernando played the game with the team was different, because of the characteristics of the man, so we need to focus on that. It would be wrong to compare two persons, not drivers, because Kimi won the title with us. So I am speaking about persons that have different characteristics, and on that I have to say that the approach of Fernando with the team was different, because (of) his nature, and it was much easier for him to relate with the people at all levels.
Q.Can you see any future in Formula 1 for Kimi any more?
SD: I think that Kimi is a fantastic driver. It's up to him to decide what he wants to do with his future. I know that he will stay rallying also this year, and he wants to win there. Then, maybe we will see if... Because for sure it is important for him to drive; it is a matter for him to decide or not.
Q.Two questions on the drivers. The first: we know that both drivers have a long-term agreement but I want to know the position of Felipe, who comes from a less positive season. What about his future position within the team? Second, we saw Valentino Rossi enter into his new team. May this mean that he will never work with you in the future?
SD: As for the first question, I have to say that since we're speaking about Felipe, Felipe is a driver on which we count a lot. He has always shown, when under examination - he has always been under examination - we forget that when things did not work he was always under pressure. He had a difficult season, but I am convinced that he is going to react in the best possible way, as he knows how to do. He is an expert, he grew with us, and it's correct, it is just right that he should continue with this positive and motivated approach.
Clearly, we need - if we want to win the constructors' title - we need two strong drivers, we need two winning drivers, this is my desire, and also my conviction. I am sure of this. As for Valentino, Valentino now has ahead of him an important challenge, and I sent him my best wishes, but of course I can do so privately, so I wish him the best, this is correct. But now he should remain focused on this goal, which is an important goal for him as a rider, as a person, and also important for Ducati. So let's leave him focused on that. Again, never say never, but now let's focus on our goals, and Valentino can focus on his goals now with Ducati.
Q.At the end of the season it is almost normal to look behind and to see what was done well and what one would have done differently. What would you do differently vis-a-vis what you did in 2010, and especially at Hockenheim? Would you have done the same with hindsight? And also with the new rules that have changed, on the team rules?
SD: Very simply, I think that the decisions which are being taken - including also the drivers, they had to be done. I think these decisions are meaningful if they have been rightly considered when you have to take them, because to take decisions in a different context, in a different setting, is something which cannot be done. You always have to consider the specific moment and the consequences of a specific decision taken for the good of the team.
So from this point of view, I think that as far as the team was concerned, the decisions which were taken were right. As for team play, okay, we've always been in favour. The issue of this team play, of team orders, have always existed. Those who do not want to see that this table is white can see it black. But that's a different problem, it's something that should be tackled from a medical point of view. So I think it is right that to be transparent, and so as far as the regulations are concerned, if there is something which may damage the sport, then the regulations state that one should tackle that in a specific fashion. But in favour of transparency, this is what has been decided by the F1 Commission in December. I think that this is simply logic, and correct - the decision is logic.
It would be meaningless to be false, and to say 'we must have clear priorities of the team', which do not mask the specific formality. We all know, and for those who work in Formula 1 knows this extremely well, even more than me, that team orders have always exist (ed). I think that a decision was taken going in the right direction, because all who live in Formula 1 know - and also fans should know - that this is indeed what has always taken place.
Q.Going back to the new structure and this simulations group, don't you think that F1 is going, is heading along an illogical path? Meaning, what a computer decides is right, the intuition of man is no longer important, so that we're going beyond normality as far as the races are concerned, bringing everything to the extreme is not even that important. Perhaps the intuition of the man, the creativity of the man, could be at times more appreciated, so that the genius may be appreciated from the outside. What do you think about this? And second, I've heard that you had a major role in the first contact between Ducati and Valentino. Can you tell us something about this? Is it true, is it not true?
SD: So as for the first question, clearly as far as the system is concerned, the system as a whole, Formula 1 has grown a lot. And hence it is correct that it wants to, you know, use all the tools, the reliable tools that are available. But at the end, it all still depends on the intuition, on the genius of the decisions which have been taken. This is true also for the drivers. But if instead you want to say that Formula 1 is focusing more on teamwork, and if the car is fast even a slow driver can win, then in that case it's against what is done with bikes, with two-wheelers, then here there's a difference. Because currently, let's say, for motorcycles, for bikes, those with more talent on the race track, they can show it more than on cars.
So the dominance of the technicalities of Formula 1 is indeed very strong. And it is correct to re-balance this. How can we do this? We can do it by having cars which should be easier to overtake, brutally speaking. This is what is fundamental. We should favour overtaking. This is just a personal comment of mine. I think that the Formula 1 of today, since it's fundamental to have a liaison, a link with also to street cars, now everything is too much balanced on the side of aerodynamics which exaggerate (by being) 90% of the performance of the car.
Those who work in the field of the automotive sector know that investments in aerodynamics for normal cars is opposite - we develop cars on the engines, and electronic controls. So there is this clash, a marked gap, and I think that this should be tackled as soon as possible. So the automotive world is not going in the area of aerodynamics, it is going in the opposite direction, but I repeat F1 is too based in aerodynamics. And since we're the only manufacturers participating in all championships of Formula 1, of course we want to improve on this vis-a-vis the future.
As for the second question, I think what is important is to see what has taken place and I'm happy that Valentino took the decision and I can't wait to see at Mugello in Italy an extraordinary event since Mugello was very difficult for Valentino last year, since he suffered the accident at Mugello. So it's going to be a major appointment for all the fans of motorsport, July 3rd at the Mugello race track, things are going extraordinarily well already today, the sales of tickets. We see it as well as our own GP, since the race track is of our group, and personally I am very, very fond of that race track.
Q.Marko spoke in the past few days about Ferrari going to look for Red Bull technicians, apart from Neil Martin (ex-Red Bull strategy expert) who did indeed arrive. So I want to ask you - is it true that Ferrari has tried to go buying people out from Red Bull, and especially he said that Ferrari wants to steal the Red Bull spirit. Apart from this, and I'm sure you're going to answer me 'no', is this something that you would like to take away from them, and if they're still your main rivals for next year?
SD: First of all, my compliments to our opponents, because they won the championship. And so as a sportsman my compliments to them because they deserved it. As for this statement by Helmut on this issue, honestly I do not think that it is even worth commenting it, because supermarket or not, the rotation of engineers within F1 teams has always existed. I think that from this point of view, the fact that so many people working at the teams say they want to come work for us shows that first we are still something which is unique for all those working in other teams, because this is what takes place usually.
Secondly, people speaking about a person who arrived, and so the term supermarket is wrong, but I repeat: that's not the issue, but I repeat, taking away the spirit - I only know the Ferrari spirit, since I only worked at Ferrari, I do not know the spirit of other teams. I only know the fact that the spirit within Ferrari is extraordinary, it's fantastic. And the persons who come, who from other teams want to come and work for us, tell this to us that of course they never experienced, that they like staying, and they enjoy living the Ferrari spirit together with our partners, together with what we have developed even beyond the F1 community.
Because those who came to us via F1 then remained in other departments of the group has to take away... I don't want to take away anything from other teams, if not, of course, to try to copy their performance, to try to copy what they were able to do this year. In the field they were very strong, I have to say, especially in terms of the aerodynamic efficiency. From that point of view they've been extremely, extremely good. But my compliments to them - they won, and those who win deserve compliments. I'm not a person who likes to quarrel, and so I hope that next year I may be able to, you know, focus on something else. This year, we simply have to focus on what we have to do.
Q.[Flexi wings] Has something been done on that? Are you all copying now, or have you found a way of policing this to everyone's satisfaction?
SD: I think that on that area, once again, there was a lot of debate on that subject, because it was, let's say, visible that there was some deflection under certain conditions, but we need to start from the regulation point of view, and the fact that we need to rely on what the regulator is doing. And I can tell you they did a lot of checks in all the different conditions, cutting even the wings just to make a structural check. And if the regulator didn't find any argument to say 'listen, that was not legal', then I think it's always a matter of interpreting the rules at the limit. The limit... It always has to be within the limit, not over the limit. So if a certain team was better than everyone else on that, congratulations to them because they did a better job.
We, on that respect I think did a reasonable job, but the FIA decided to introduce new condition of testing, changing completely the approach from the beginning. Also after this all the cars were found in conformity with the regulations, so I think that we need to rely on the situation. I mean, if there is a rule there is the referee that is checking, and I can tell you at least on our side that they did all the checks possible, every time - at home, at qualifying, at the race, after the race - and everything is fine. We have to assume that is fixed. If there is any doubt on the regulation, that is a matter of discussion in the appropriate meetings of the Technical Working Group, and I think that on that side that after a peak of emotion, let's say, that subject dropped down. We are looking forward to see what is the next one, because for sure something will come.
Q.And the second one is picking up on what you were talking about before with Felipe. When you've been in Formula 1 a long time you see driver pairings, you see the dynamics between drivers. Sometimes one guy is just able to impose himself on the other guy, however talented the other guy may be. Maybe he's not as strong mentally, whatever it may be. You obviously want a strong performance from Felipe. How will you measure success? I mean, if Fernando has him pretty much where he wants him at the moment, is the odd win - such as Button got over Hamilton last year - going to be enough, or is it just being there solidly 60%, 70% of Fernando's points? Is that what you're looking for?
SD: I think that it would be wrong to say something like that at the beginning. I need to see how the season will evolve in that respect. But for sure I am expecting - because Felipe's very strong and closer to Fernando, even better. Why not? Next year. And on that, it's something that we will see very soon. I'm sure that the technical problems that Felipe faced last year will be solved, and saw Felipe already with a different face on the first day of testing with the tyres of Pirelli. And also, from a psychological point of view, it was very important for him - he knows that he has the total full support of all the team at all levels. And this is fundamental.
I have to say that, apart from certain situations that are normal between drivers, you can take all the couples of drivers in Formula 1, starting from the lower up to the top, it is normal that with the drivers there is a certain kind of competitiveness, otherwise they're not driving in Formula 1 - they're driving trucks. In that way, the equilibrium that it is now between Felipe and Fernando is actually very good. And I've seen a lot of couples (driver pairings) with the - if I may say - if you go back to when we had Michael with us, with a strong character on top of a very strong performance, and I can see that it is honestly very good.
I'm expecting to have really a good result, also because of this, also because of the fact that we share all the information together. We have everything that is visible to the two teams, not only to the drivers, so it is a very, very important season for him, but I am expecting a very good season as a result.
Q.Moving away from the team specifics, strategically speaking Formula 1 is extending all over the world now. Do you like the way it's extending? Are there the right number of races? And can we have a clear picture about Ferrari's view about races in Italy? Are you supporting the Grand Prix of Rome, or are you supporting Monza, or both?
SD: Mugello, Fiorano, don't you forget that. [Laughs.] I mean, I think that the right number of races is 20. More is honestly, I would say, very, very difficult. Even now we are discussing with Bernie, you know, the fact that to start on the 13th of March and ending end of November, it's very long. But the number is correct. I would say that we miss United States, for us (it) is very important. It should be 2012 in Austin, and the processes are there. I think we need to remember that the historical grands prix are very, very important, and this is something that... Formula 1 cannot miss that opportunity, because historically it means a lot. I have to say that Bernie had good vision, to invest in new countries, because - you know - their interest, in certain areas this has happened in a very strong way, in other areas less. It's a matter of balance.
We cannot have, in my view, looking at the future, two grands prix in the same nation at the same time. Because, you know, if you are twenty, twenty's twenty. That's not what you want. So I think the approach of having one Grand Prix in a nation, in each country, is the right approach. Then the way that the countries manage that is not something that we need to be involved, it's important in that respect that it has to be promoted in the right way, because we saw that in some countries that is not the case. We need to make sure that in that event everything is around Formula 1, so in terms of activities that are out of the track, and we see good examples in certain places where you can feel the atmosphere, and this is really great of Formula 1.
With regard to the Italian Grand Prix, I think that we have already stated our position in this respect, that it is not our personal choice to say where we have to go. We think, as I said, that there should be one Grand Prix in each nation. Monza has a lot (of) history, it is one of the historical grands prix. So we cannot miss that opportunity in my respect. But I think that also the mayor of Rome stated something in the last couple of days; the situation should evolve very soon.
Q.I suppose you will agree with me that the season of Felipe was not as good as expected. Did you make with him any psychological work to let him know what the team really expects for next year? Did you talk to him about his performance, about what you want from him?
SD: I think that is part of the, I would say normal job, not only with the drivers but also with the people, the engineers, the mechanics, the technicians. As I said already, the one that is not happy about this season that is finished, but is already in the past, is Felipe. I can see with another frame of mind, of course with (regard to) what I say between us is something that I keep for us. But in the very constructive way, as I said before, I can see him very, very motivated. Very, very motivated.
Q.About Felipe as well - you're confident that he will improve this season, put last year's performance behind him? But if he were to have another season like he did in 2010, would it be fair to say that would be unacceptable, that you'd look to get another driver in for the sake of winning the constructors' title?
SD: I think that, as I said, to say something before has no meaning, we need to see the situation day by day evolving as it is, and I think the example - I said that before - what was the judgment of our season race by race. Before, let's say at five o'clock before Abu Dhabi, sorry, before the race or after the race, you see how things have changed completely, so it's better to be, to do the step-by-step approach. For sure it's important that we all together - all together - not only the drivers, but the engineers and the mechanics and the team has to do a good job, but then at the end of the day we will take the right decision. But that's the approach.
Q & A with Stefano Domenicali
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