Stefano Domenicali believes that the sport had a successful season, despite the repetitive nature of races with Max Verstappen often in the lead. The former Ferrari team boss drew parallels between Verstappen and seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. Domenicali also addressed criticism of the sprint races.
“The COVID-19 pandemic could have spelled the end of Formula 1,” says the Italian in the Rai radio program La Politica nel Pallone.
Domenicali is referring particularly to 2020 when the season started only in July, with mostly empty stands during Grand Prix weekends. “We managed to rebuild the sport step by step, making it one of the most globally followed platforms now.”
Dominant 2023 Season and Evolution of the Sport
The Formula 1 CEO also reflected on the 2023 season, which was dominated by Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen. “This season has been extremely positive for Formula 1, despite Verstappen’s dominance,” Domenicali said with a smile. “We’ve seen improved metrics, expanded into new markets, and developed new products.”
One of the new products Domenicali refers to is the sprint race format, which is expected to be modified again in 2024. Despite the sprint races not being very popular among many fans, Domenicali points out that there are indeed advantages. “The data shows there is interest because days with only practice sessions aren’t very inspiring. All sports evolve. Everyone also needs to keep an eye on what is happening in the world.”
Domenicali acknowledged that many fans feel disappointed as the focus seems to increasingly shift towards the show. “We must respect those who have grown up with Formula 1 because they have always been our followers. We need to accept criticism, if done in a constructive manner, while also entertaining new fans. Tradition holds value, but one must also keep up with the times.”
The former Ferrari team boss also specifically addressed Verstappen’s dominance in recent years.
“Our sport has always experienced such periods, with a combination of a strong car and an extraordinary driver. With Max, we have a mature driver in both races and qualifications. He reminds me of Michael Schumacher in the way he leaves nothing for the rest.” concludes Domenicali, who worked as a team manager with the German at Ferrari from 1996 to 2006.
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