Stefano Domenicali knows from ‘experience’ Ferrari are not out of the title race

Jon Wilde
Stefano Domenicali talks to Mattia Binotto. Monza September 2021.

Stefano Domenicali talks to Mattia Binotto at the Italian Grand Prix. Monza September 2021.

Stefano Domenicali says he knows from personal experience that Ferrari should not give up this year’s title battle.

With nine races remaining, it looks a tall order for either Charles Leclerc to bridge an 80-point gap to Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ standings or for the Scuderia to close their 97-point Constructors’ Championship deficit to Red Bull.

But at least there is plenty of time – unlike when Kimi Raikkonen was trailing Lewis Hamilton by 17 points in 2007 with only a maximum of 20 left available.

There was barely any margin to spare for the Finn, who had to win one of the last two races of that season and finish no worse than second in the other while hoping Hamilton stayed off the podium.

And it played out exactly that way as Raikkonen won both the Chinese and Brazilian Grands Prix, pipping the Briton by one point after his Shanghai pit-lane spin and Interlagos gearbox problem.

Only one point separated Raikkonen from both Hamilton and his McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso at the end of the campaign.

The Ferrari sporting director at the time was Domenicali, now the F1 CEO, who therefore knows a thing or two about not giving up on a championship even when all looks lost – and has urged Leclerc to do the same.

“From my previous experience, you have to never say never,” Domenicali told reporters.

“Remember in 2007, two races to go, we were behind by 17 points and Kimi was able to win the championship in Brazil. Nobody was expecting that.

“I know it’s a big number, but I don’t see why Ferrari shouldn’t be getting back again in the fight with Red Bull.

“Red Bull are a very strong team, Mercedes will grow, but really, the only thing I can say, because of my position, is they shouldn’t give up at all up to the last moment.

“Mistakes, reliability, weather conditions, who knows? The only thing that is important that, and I’m sure they will be, [Ferrari] have to stay focused.”

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc races Red Bull's Max Verstappen at the Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, July 2022.

Domenicali thinks the huge crowds that will flock to the next sequence of races are in for a treat.

“From Belgium up to the end, all of the grands prix are sold out, so a lot of people have already booked the tickets to come,” added the 57-year-old Italian, quoted by Motorsport.com.

“So Belgium, every day will be more than 120,000 people. Zandvoort, you can imagine the same. Monza, more than 250,000 tickets sold. Singapore, sold out.

“That’s really something that is already reserved. So I hope we will have a great race and a great second part of the season.”