F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali talks about developing the sport, Lewis Hamilton’s next steps and the future


In an extensive interview with Daily MailFormula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali talks about the next steps for Lewis Hamilton, the sport’s growth and drivers’ frustration with some of the recent changes, and even the future of F1 itself.

The most attention-grabbing commentary focused on recent changes to the sport, and resistance from drivers. Most notably, reigning world champion Max Verstappen expressed his frustration with the schedule, including the number of sprint races on this season’s calendar.

Ahead of the Australian Grand Prix Verstappen said he “won’t be too long” if F1 continues to add to the schedule. Then before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the first sprint race of the season, Verstappen went even further. “I’ve always said that, even if there won’t be any more sprint races or anything,” he said. “But yeah, I feel that if it gets too much at one point, it’s time for a change.”

Domenicali replied to the comments, stating that drivers, and the whole sport, cannot be complacent with the status quo when they want to develop F1. He also emphasized that he was not worried that Verstappen would leave in the near future.

“I don’t want a society where people can’t say what they want,” said the CEO Daily Mail. “But drivers sometimes need to remember that they are part of a bigger picture. We don’t need to be selfish.”

Domenicali noted that some of the changes were part of F1’s plans to attract a new, diverse audience.

“[The drivers] is part of this sport and this business, and it’s growing because we think bigger. Sometimes getting out of our comfort zone isn’t easy, but we shouldn’t be lazy or complacent – ​​just as we can review some of the specifications of the sprint weekend format at the end of the season after we’ve tried it on the six occasions in question. We’re also not going to be doing sprints every weekend,” he added. “But we have a new audience and need to provide value for money each session, not leave everyone in circles for the benefit of engineers and drivers.”

Regarding Verstappen’s departure, Domenicali believes the champion will outlast him in F1.

“I discussed this matter with Max [before the Miami GP]. He says he loves sports and what he does. He is world champion and fighting for a third title,” added Domenicali. “He was born in a car. I would say he will likely stay longer than me. This is not a problem.”

Perhaps the most interesting part of Domenicali’s interview with Daily Mail involving Lewis Hamilton’s contractual status. The Mercedes driver will see his contract with the team expire at the end of 2023, a fact which has fueled much speculation regarding his future. Team president Toto Wolff expressed confidence in reaching a contract extension with Hamilton earlier this month. “And we, we’re working on this. It’s a work in progress, bouncing emails back and forth,” Wolff said in early May. “And finally we will sign it.”

Daily Mail asked F1 bosses whether Hamilton should stay with Mercedes, move to another team, or even retire. Domenicali was adamant that Hamilton should stay on the grid, in a nod to Mercedes.

“I want him to stay in sport 100 per cent, 100 per cent. 1,000 percent!” said Domenicali.

“I don’t want to give any advice to Lewis because that would be disrespectful to Toto. And Lewis has such deep experience that I believe he doesn’t need my input because he knows what he wants,” said the F1 boss. “He loves our sport. He has been in it since he was a child. Now his role in F1 is bigger than that of an F1 world champion, given the way he is involved in many things outside of sport and plays an active role in society. He takes us to a new dimension.”

Then came the nod to Silver Arrows.

“But his love is Formula One, and, of course, he wants to achieve his dream of being the only driver to win an eighth title,” added Domenicali. “Toto is really focused on making Mercedes grow. He told me he was making adjustments in the team to make sure that there is the right intensity to get the form as fast as possible. I’m sure this will happen very, very soon.”

However, the comments come as reports from Daily Mail himself pointed out that Ferrari were preparing a surprise bid to lure Hamilton to the Scuderia:

Mail Sport understands the Italian side are willing to break the bank to land the superstar in a £40 million deal, and offer him the chance to beat the Scuderia’s greatest hero, Michael Schumacher, who won five of his seven titles with them.

Talk of a luxury signing is not only growing at the highest levels at Ferrari, but company president John Elkann is already in close touch with Hamilton.

However Hamilton’s situation unfolds, Domenicali is clear on one thing: The future for F1 is bright, and the sport knows who should take the lead.

“There is a bright future for Formula One,” Domenicali told Daily Mail. “[A]and I think they know who has to make the decisions.”

Note: This section has been updated to provide further context regarding Mr. Domenicali.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here