Domenicali exclusive: ‘I hope title fight goes down to the final race’

Nearly five decades on from sneaking into Imola to catch a glimpse of his first love, motorbikes, and then cars, he talks breathlessly about a sport which has defined his entire life.

As a son of Imola, he imbibed the perfume of petrol and oil, loved how the diminutive town came alive to motorsport. People would offer up their garages for parking, local moped riders would ferry people to the track, the city was awash with meals being prepared for visitors.

By his teen years, he was checking the VIP passes for the likes of Bernie Ecclestone, and therefore finds it somewhat surreal that, as Formula 1 CEO, he is effectively a Bernie 2.0.

“Sometimes I wake up and ask, ‘is it true?’” he says. “I’ve seen this world from many different angles, and I recognise that starting from the ground.”

He climbed his way through the ranks to become Ferrari team principal and then CEO of Lamborghini before being lured back to F1 to replace Chase Carey for the start of this season.

In the intervening months, he has overseen the most thrilling title race in recent memory, and can’t quite believe his luck. With two races left, he loves the fact he has no idea how it might pan out.

“My crystal ball has a little bit of fog – I can’t see inside very well,” he says of his prediction for the season’s end. “I just hope that this sporting fight will go up to the last race for both titles. It’s something that is so difficult to predict.”

Domenicali’s second season in the sport, 2022, was supposed to be when the racing took off with a new set of rules and budget cap aimed at bringing the entire field closer together. But then 2021 happened.

AFP via Getty Images

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