Stefano Domenicali interview: New System 1 chief urges drivers to steer by instance

Stefano Domenicali interview: New System 1 chief urges drivers to steer by instance

Drivers take the knee before an F1 race in 2020
Drivers took the knee earlier than every race of the 2020 calendar to focus on the struggle towards racism

New System 1 boss Stefano Domenicali says he’ll urge the Grand Prix drivers to “lead by instance” as position fashions for the game.

The 55-year-old mentioned he had written to all of the drivers to level out their significance as “optimistic ambassadors for F1”.

“They’ve large accountability as a result of they’re the face of our sport,” mentioned Domenicali, who turned F1 president in January.

“We have now an enormous potential to achieve new followers who will have interaction with their faces and behavior and the way they act as a person.”

Domenicali singled out Lewis Hamilton, who has promoted anti-racism, range and sustainability lately, as “a large ambassador for F1”.

“He is essential for F1 as he’s embracing different values into the dialogue and giving his face to a variety of factors which can be exterior regular sport.”

In his first information convention since taking his new position, the previous Ferrari workforce boss coated a variety of matters.

These included:

  • His confidence that F1 can run a full calendar this season regardless of the pandemic
  • Prospects for brand new races
  • A revision to plans for dash races on Saturday afternoons
  • His hopes for Hamilton’s contract talks with Mercedes to return to a conclusion

The drivers’ public duties

Stefano Domenicali on the grid at the Portuguese Grand Prix in 2020
Stefano Domenicali (carrying the orange masks) says F1 drivers have a “large accountability” because the face of the game

Domenicali mentioned he anticipated different drivers to observe Hamilton’s instance of talking out on vital points.

F1 final yr began a marketing campaign selling range, by which Hamilton was on the forefront, and has made sustainability a key problem for the long run, setting a goal for the game to be net-zero carbon by 2030.

“We by no means had in F1 so many implausible drivers – younger, proficient, very robust – and we can not lose the chance of constructing certain they’re greater than drivers,” Domenicali mentioned.

“They should perceive their relationship with the F1 world is crucial.

“It’s an space I wish to make investments a variety of time on my facet to maintain discussing, not solely on the sporting facet with them, however to share how I consider we must always work collectively in utilizing our platform and their position mannequin to push factors which can be vital for our society.”

Grand Prix Drivers’ Affiliation chairman Alex Wurz informed BBC Sport: “It is no secret Stefano and I’ve already spoken. He made it clear he desires to have interaction with us and have an in depth co-operation for a greater future.

“We talked via how we will co-operate. Like every relationship, there will likely be features the place we agree and features the place we disagree, however I actually welcome the openness and method and we’ll have interaction and proceed the development from the previous couple of years of working collectively.”

Domenicali addressed the controversy round new Haas driver Nikita Mazepin’s conduct in a video posted on-line final yr by which the Russian novice appeared to inappropriately contact a girl in a automotive.

“It’s fairly clear what he did was not acceptable – very simple,” Domenicali mentioned.

“However he was apologetic and we’d like to ensure within the dialogue we’re going to have that they perceive that we can not joke on sure issues – not doable. They’re too vital to not perceive their position mannequin they must embrace.”

The challenges of Covid

Domenicali mentioned he was “completely assured” that F1 might fulfil its report 23-race calendar this season, though he admitted it was “a problem” and that the game must be “fluid and versatile”.

After publishing one calendar F1 has already needed to draft a second, suspending the deliberate opening race of the season in Australia till November and eradicating the Chinese language Grand Prix, for which it’s nonetheless hoped a brand new slot could be discovered.

There may be additionally uncertainty over the proposed third spherical of the season, scheduled for two Could. Till lately, this was anticipated to be run at Portugal’s Portimao observe, however journey restrictions have raised doubts concerning the viability of a race there.

Domenicali mentioned that having two races in Bahrain to open the season was “one of many doable plan Bs, however it isn’t confirmed”.

And he emphasised that F1 wouldn’t be pushing to have drivers and workforce members vaccinated early.

“The precedence is essentially the most weak,” he mentioned. “We do not need to soar the road of vaccination.”

The prospect of recent races

Domenicali additionally reiterated F1’s plans to have a couple of race in America.

He mentioned negotiations over extending the contract of the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, had began; that work was ongoing on a race in Miami and that there was “large curiosity from each events to be there”; and there have been different doable venues within the US with whom negotiations weren’t as superior.

Vietnam, whose debut race in 2020 was cancelled due to Covid and which has been dropped for 2021, was “nonetheless on the desk for a future occasion”.

And he mentioned there have been discussions about races in each “north and south Africa”.

Hamilton’s contract

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton gained his first F1 championship in 2008

Hamilton will likely be going for an all-time report eighth drivers’ title this yr however first he has to finalise a brand new contract with Mercedes, as his current deal expired on the finish of final yr.

Domenicali mentioned he understood the delay in concluding negotiations between Hamilton and Mercedes workforce boss Toto Wolff.

“I’m certain Lewis desires to know a variety of factors about his future,” Domenicali mentioned. “I do not suppose it is just associated to his wage; it’s extra associated to what they take note of to share collectively sooner or later.

“What he’ll struggle for this yr from the sporting perspective is unbelievable. And I can think about the stress and dynamic of how he reaches this report can be an unbelievable story to inform.”

Rejection of sporting gimmicks

Over the previous two years, F1 had been pushing to check out new approaches to racing, specifically a reverse-grid dash race rather than qualifying on Saturday.

Domenicali is open to the concept of a shorter race on Saturdays along with the primary Grand Prix on Sunday and mentioned this “might be examined this yr”, however he mentioned the concept of a “reverse grid is over”.

He identified that “once we have been altering qualifying each couple of days, it burned our fingers” – a reference to former boss Bernie Ecclestone forcing via a change in qualifying format in the beginning of 2016 which needed to be deserted after one race.

Plans are of their infancy, however it’s understood that the dash race wouldn’t affect the way in which automobiles lined up for the primary occasion.

Domenicali mentioned: “It is vital to think about new concepts of being extra engaging or attention-grabbing however we do not have to lose the standard method of racing.”

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