When former Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali was announced as the man to become the next CEO and President of Formula 1 in 2021, the news was met with a figurative deafening of approval. Now, following the latest edition of Beyond the Grid, the current CEO and Chairman Chase Carey has shared the news that a ‘’very broad search’’ was conducted to find his replacement.
Even before the news of Stefano Domenicali’s appointment was announced, the motorsport public already had a good idea who would be the new man at the top. So much so, that Red Bull’s Team Principal Christian Horner referred to the announcement as an ‘open secret’.
Chase Carey will still be involved in some way with F1 as a non-executive Chairman but how did the powers that be come to choose Stefano Domenicali to begin with?
During the most recent edition of the Beyond the Grid podcast, the outgoing CEO shed some light on the extensive process involved to find his replacement:
"We went through a very broad search, looking at a complete range from A to Z of candidates,"
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has previously revealed that he held some initial talks with F1 about taking over from Carey, but they ultimately "never went anywhere" and conclusions can be drawn that this was largely due to opposition from rival teams unhappy at the prospect of the Mercedes supremo being in charge. Chase Carey had no such baggage when he entered F1:
“I came into this as an outsider, and I think there was some value in coming into the sport as an outsider, because I felt it needed significant change and fresh perspectives, a different set of perspectives.”
Despite being an outsider, the tremendous work that Chase Carey and his team has conducted to enable a 2020 F1 season is truly admirable. It has very much looked like, from the outside, that Carey has been learning the job as he goes along and that is not necessarily a bad thing as he is eager to respect the past while still be mindful of the future. However, many people believe that he has taken the sport as far as he can and the outgoing CEO can see that this momentum he has generated in F1 needs to be maintained:
"Going forward now, what we felt was right, we wanted somebody who can maintain the momentum and continue to build on what we think we've put in place to grow the sport.”
Chase Carey’s replacement, Stefano Domenicali, has a rich F1 history and is as far from an ‘outsider’ as you can find. Domenicali spent more than 20 years with Ferrari. During his tenure as the team principal between 2008 and 2014 he showed his pedigree and desire for the sport and clearly made one or two friends along the way.
Chase Carey is clearly aware of the qualities the new man in charge will bring to the role:
"One of the important things Stefano brings is a deep knowledge of not just the sport and the competition on-track, but the players in the sport, and therefore I think he can hit the ground running in terms of taking things forward."
"Stefano brings a unique personality to this, somebody that has great respect," Carey said.
Stefano Domenicali clearly holds a great deal of respect in the paddock but Chase Carey also provided an insight into what kind of role awaits the ex-Ferrari man:
"Sometimes I feel that this role you're sitting in the eye of a storm, with a lot of partners circling around. I think he brings a balance, and an even-keeled personality to navigate through what at times can be a very noisy situation…I think the combination of unique expertise and experience with a personality that can navigate through the various dynamics that exist make him ideally suited for this."
In the coming months, Chase Carey will be assisting Stefano Domenicali in a transition period before formally starting on January 1st 2021.
Stefano Domenicali does not have an easy task ahead of him but nothing in this man’s life has been easy. Domenicali’s own edition of Beyond the Grid is very well worth a listen as he tells host Tom Clarkson of his business ethos, love of racing and involvement with Audi and Lamborghini.
With Jean Todt as FIA President; Ross Brawn in place as F1’s Managing Director and now Stefano Domenicali soon to be the F1 CEO - it appears to be very much a case of ‘getting the band back together’.
Now with these titans at the top of motorsport we await to see the music they can produce. Wouldn’t it be nice if one such sound was that of a roaring V10 engine…but that is a discussion for another day.