In the wake of Ferrari's desultory and error-strewn start to the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship, Stefano Domenicali has revealed that he is willing to step down if he is 'the problem' – but he is adamant that he is not.
As team principal of the Scuderia
– a role he assumed from Jean Todt when the Frenchman departed the fray at the end of 2007 – Domenicali has thus far this year presided over a miserable campaign for the esteemed Maranello-based outfit, with just six points on the board five races in and scant hope now remaining of successfully defending its hard-fought constructors' crown, with only Williams, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Force India further down in the title standings.
That is the product of both an uncompetitive and unreliable car and – even more critically still – myriad strategic misjudgements that have seen the team throw away points when it has been in a position to pounce. If the mistake that saw Felipe Massa drop out of Q1 in Malaysia last month was disastrous, then its repetition on team-mate Kimi Raikkonen's side of the garage in Barcelona five weeks later was unforgivable.
The pressure is rising within the scarlet cauldron, and with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone musing that Ferrari has 'gone a little bit back to the way it was before Todt went there', Domenicali's head is on the block. A further mix-up saw Massa come perilously close to running out of fuel in the Spanish Grand Prix, with the Brazilian having to cede track position to both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in the closing stages, causing Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore to quip in an interview with Spanish newspaper AS
: “Fortunately I am not the head of Ferrari!”
He may be the main man in the firing line, however, but Domenicali is confident that he is also the right man to drag Ferrari out of its current malaise and back to championship-challenging glory. For his own sake, that renaissance cannot come soon enough.
“I do not think I'm the problem,” the 44-year-old told German broadcaster RTL
, “but if necessary, I would make room.”