Domenicali “totally confident” of closer title fight next year after Red Bull rout in 2022

2022 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali says Red Bull’s rivals may have missed opportunities to beat them in 2022 and he expects a closer title fight next year.

After the 2021 championship fight went down to the final race of the season, this year’s contest was decided much sooner. Max Verstappen clinched his second world championship in the Japanese Grand Prix, with four races to go.

F1 introduced new technical regulations for 2022 aimed at improving the quality of racing and cutting the performance gap between teams. Domenicali said F1 are “totally positive on the impact that the change of regulations brought this year” despite the early conclusion to the championship fight.

While Mercedes struggled from the beginning of the year and have only recently become victory contenders once more, Ferrari started the year with two wins in three races but saw their early advantage gradually overturned by Red Bull. Domenicali suspects Red Bull’s rivals missed chances to beat them this year.

“In this case Red Bull, and Max Verstappen, did an incredible job,” he said. “Maybe it’s another team didn’t take the right opportunity.

Red Bull “did an incredible job” – Domenicali
“But what we saw on the track, the wheel-to-wheel racing, that’s what we wanted. And I’m totally confident that next year the fight on the track will arrive [until] the end of the calendar.”

He said there is still a lot of interest in the last two races as several lower positions in both the drivers and teams championships are yet to be decided.

“The last races, on the sporting side, there is a lot of attention,” he said. “There is a fight for places that also for the team’s perspective is related to their financial position and the financial reward if they achieve a position better than the other teams. So I think that there would be a lot of interest in Brazil and Abu Dhabi too, no problem.”

The early conclusion to this year’s championship won’t have a negative effect on the championship from a financial point of view either, said Domenicali. “We don’t see any kind of risk at all.

“First of all, we have the last two races we sold out tickets and the numbers are really growing. The attention will be shifted, of course, on other fights from the sporting perspective. That’s part of racing.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 F1 season

Browse all 2022 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

50 comments on “Domenicali “totally confident” of closer title fight next year after Red Bull rout in 2022”

  1. It will only be closer if he rigs it like last year. F1 is mostly about not close championships and has always been that way.

    1. Exactly. If it’s not rigged to favour Mercedes or Ferrari, Max will win again 15 or even more races.

      1. If it’s not rigged to favour Mercedes or Ferrari, Max will win again 15 or even more races.

        Give the BS a rest for a day or so.

        They say that “you get what you pay for”, and RBR certainly paid more than everyone else.

        1. Not to the extent of dominating like this, win-wise though.

        2. More than Mercedes who had 1 or even 2 year headstart over rivals in developing V6 engine, which resulted in complete dominance between 2014 and 2020 and allowed Sir Hamilton to set all his records? How do you feel about that?

          1. @armchairexpert All manufacturers had as much preparation lead time, but Mercedes merely put the available time to better use than others, resulting in their eventual complete dominance.

          2. Or the gain Mercedes suddenly got after negotiating an in season tyre compound change to suit the rear of the Mercedes?

        3. 0.37% more indeed

  2. I’m not so bullish on Stefano’s prediction. First, there are parallels between the engine development token system from 2014 (which hindered Mercedes’ rivals) and the aero development/CFD restrictions. Second, the budget cap keeps reducing year-over-year which makes it harder to catch up to the leaders (even if you have more aero testing time available.) That’s the “carryover” advantage Red Bull’s rivals are claiming the team has with their cost cap breach.

  3. If Red Bull win again it will mean that the penalty for breaching the budget cap was not severe enough. So it should be closer, and a battle between Mercedes and Ferrari for the title. But somehow I doubt it, and think Red Bull will win again, although Mercedes probably will give them more of a fight.

    Personally, I am hoping Charles Leclerc will win the title next year. Mercedes and Red Bull I feel are partly responsible for the toxicity in Formula 1 at the moment, so would like Ferrari to win, and Leclerc is such an exciting driver to watch, that I would love for him to be champion.

    As I have said before, if Lewis Hamilton is the Alain Prost of current Formula 1, and Max Verstappen is Ayrton Senna, then Charles Leclerc is certainly Nigel Mansell. Not quite as complete as the other two but certainly the best to watch, and with outstanding overtaking.

    1. If Red Bull win again it will mean that the penalty for breaching the budget cap was not severe enough.

      This situation is going to taint at least three seasons. Red Bull spent more than was allowed in 2021, potentially benefited from that in 2022, and carry that over into 2023 which is when the penalties first come into effect.

      It’s very unfortunate for Verstappen, who has been on top of his game for a while now and is performing almost flawlessly – but his championships are going to have its detractors for a long time. People still complain about 1994!

      1. randomnumber (@)
        5th November 2022, 6:57

        English fans/media still complain about 1994, everyone else is happy the best man won after the FIA tried to fix it for Williams all year. Just like Mercedes and Hamilton. England’s favored team cheats and cheats for years and nobody dares say anything; everytime they get humiliated in the end when other teams finally play by their own tactics.

      2. Why not 10 seasons? If we’re just throwing nonsense around. What about Mercedes head start in the V6 hybrid era? That one ofcourse didnt give them an advantage, that was all Lewis.

    2. Unfortunately, while I also like leclerc and consider him more complete than mansell, I don’t have any trust in ferrari’s ability to perform like merc or red bull over a season, just see what happened since 2010, ferrari only won many titles before red bull started and before merc came back.

      1. @esploratore1
        Unfortunately & admittedly, I have the same doubts, although I wish I get proven wrong next season.

    3. Aero restrictions are going to hurt their 2024 chances more than ’23. I think they already have a very clear idea about their 2023 car. But they are going to have much less aero testing time in 2023 due to winning this year and the penalty.

    4. Please leave Alain Prost alone, he never disrespected, insulted or vilified you

    5. @f1frog

      If Red Bull win again it will mean that the penalty for breaching the budget cap was not severe enough

      Rubbish.

      Not that I think the penalty was sufficiently severe. However the purpose of the penalty is to be a handicap. There should be no assumption that a team cannot overcome a handicap.

      1. @cairnsfella Amen. I was about to write the same.

    6. Leclerc will never win a title….. with Ferrari atleast. He is champion material for sure but Ferrari cannot deliver through the course of a season.

      Even this season, even if you take out the missed opportunities in the beginning of the season, Ferrari have fallen back as the season progressed. The Horse just doesn’t have the stamina to run the whole course.

  4. I think next year will only be closer if Ferrari and Merc have learned from this year’s mistakes. It sounds like Merc has an idea of where to head with their car next year and hopefully, that pans out as expected for them. With Ferrari, I don’t get the feeling that they have learned the correct lessons this year in terms of strategy mistakes that cost them really valuable points.

  5. First, there are parallels between the engine development token system from 2014 (which hindered Mercedes’ rivals)

    As people keep saying, the engine format was primarily a Renault thing and the engine tokens aspect was everyone.
    No one can blame Merc for not being as inept as Renault and everyone else thinking that Renault were still the ones to look at as main rivals, although Max fans do.

    That’s the “carryover” advantage Red Bull’s rivals are claiming the team has with their cost cap breach.

    Which could only be negated if all the rivals were allowed to overspend in the coming development sequence by the same amount RBR already have and the fine divided between the rivals on a basis of inverse proportionality to their finish in the constructors’ championship – i.e. Williams and Haas get more than Ferrari and Merc

    1. That last solution makes good sense!

      1. That last solution makes good sense!

        Sorry about that. :)

  6. RB is far far ahead of everyone, and i don’t see a normal way for anyone to catch up for the next year’s.
    To me it’s a Deja vu of 2014 again.

    1. Certainly not 2014. Mercedes admittedly turned down their engines not to seem too far ahead. Red Bull are not that far ahead. But I also think it’s going to be Red Bull again. They have the best foundations and a great team overall. Cannot see Mercedes catch up by the start of next year. Maybe by mid-season but that is going to be too late. Ferrari? Meh.

  7. “Maybe it’s another team didn’t take the right opportunity.

    That’s a nice way of saying that 9 out of 10 teams failed to be competitive. That’s a billion dollars spent between them on failed projects. Heck, nobody except Ferrari even won a single race. This last happened in 2016, when Red Bull scored a meager two wins. Ferrari won four times this year, but unlike 2016 when Rosberg and Hamilton went head to head, Verstappen’s teammate is so much slower that he is barely ahead of Leclerc in the championship.

    “I’m totally confident that next year the fight on the track will arrive [until] the end of the calendar.”

    It doesn’t speak well of Domenicali for him to be ‘totally confident’ in something that is utterly unknowable. It instead makes it seem as though he’s desperately trying to head off complaints that the new regulations have somehow managed to make F1’s most dominated decade ever even worse.

    “There is a fight for places that also for the team’s perspective is related to their financial position and the financial reward if they achieve a position better than the other teams. So I think that there would be a lot of interest in Brazil and Abu Dhabi too, no problem.”

    People will tune in because they like seeing F1 cars race. But the people who care about the financial reward for 8th in the WCC probably can’t even fill a grandstand. It’s obvious why Domenicali says this, but every sport suffers from a decline in interest if the outcome for the big prize is known. F1 isn’t the sole exception to this rule.

    1. About domenicali being confident, it’s more than that, it’s not only unknowable, it’s also predictable it will NOT be the case that there will be a fight on track till the last race, because statistically in recent times very very rarely does the championship go down to the wire.

  8. Am I the only one who’s not seeing the new cars improve racing? They follow, and strategize the same amount as last year, and if there is need of wheel to wheel it sort of happens only after DRS zones.. As it was before.. I feel like this season reflects the same passing ability as back in 2000-2004 era. I haven’t re-watched those seasons in a long time, but it feels so similar. Big open gaps, some wheel to wheel, a thrilling rivalry where one driver excels, and the other driver impresses but doesn’t win the championship by any margin.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      4th November 2022, 19:05

      @heidenh I agree but I would say it’s even worse. Last year we were treated to great overtakes and fights. We haven’t seen many this season, have we?

      1. Especially at the front, since ferrari really crumbled halfway through and merc never really got up to speed to win on merit.

    2. Am I the only one who’s not seeing the new cars improve racing?

      @heidenh Too many drivers have said it helps to fully discount it, but in general F1 cars are still sensitive to aerodynamic disturbances and, perhaps more important, the Pirelli tyres still have a ridiculously narrow operating window that gets out of whack when the cars start following other cars as the decrease in aerodynamic grip puts more stress on the tyres. That’s been their signature characteristic since 2011, and they’ve promised to address this since 2011, but they’ve never managed to do so.

      Also, keeping DRS dissuades racing everywhere else on the track. Why take the risk? In phases of races where DRS is not usable there is still good racing, and on many more points on the track. This more than anything proves what a terrible feature DRS is. It makes overtaking boring and defending pointless, it denies viewers longer fights for position, and it turns a whole track worth of overtaking opportunities into a place where nothing happens as drivers prefer to do a DRS-assisted main straight fly-by.

      1. Michael, I think the new car regs might have improved racing of closely matched cars, but the budget cap and severe limitations on testing, engine parts, etc means that the cars were not closely matched at the start of the season and have been unable to effectively close the gap. It still feels like the bulk of passing is either DRS-assisted on the straights, or pitstop generated.

    3. @heidenh I think it’s definitely improved things but you’re going from a 2/10 to a 4/10. They can clearly follow more closely than they could before which is great but we’re still stuck with DRS. I always said the success or failure of these regulations will be measured on whether they feel they can remove DRS or not. At the moment, the jury is out so I’m not particularly impressed… It’s certainly not been the “big” improvement it was hyped up to be.

      The teams won’t be developing their cars to allow others to follow more closely so it’s not going to get better from where it was this season – if anything, it’ll get worse.

  9. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    4th November 2022, 19:02

    Is this hinting to a performance penalty for Red Bull behind-the-scenes for next season? Will Red Bull now need the FIA’s approval to win races next season?

  10. Mercedes has been favoured twice in 2022 in order to get closer. The RB penalty should help Hamilton get closer. The change in pubfi

    1. The change in pu fuel really tanked mercedes perhaps domenicalli knows that whatever mercedes stopped being allowed to do in 22 is not going to affect them so badly in 23.

  11. Stefano Domenicali has been known for his integrity, fairness… but certainly not for being competent. From his time in Ferrari as a sporting director and then as a team principle, he showed a total absence of strategic thinking and he had a tendency to quickly jump into conclusions.

    Ferrari were more than a match for RBR in the first part of the season. Before Spa, they were fast in every circuit, every condition and on every compound. The F1-75 lacked top speed and tyre management which was apparent in both Imola and Miami, though those issues were later resolved with the upgrades that delivered.

    The FIA tried to get Mercedes into contention using the safety card so it will not need to go through the legal framework to change the rules. Once the TD039 was introduced, Ferrari went into crisis. RBR and since the start of the year was one of the teams that suffered less from purpoising and the reason was that the rear suspension was designed with purpoising in mind in a way to keep the floor as planted to the ground as possible.

    RBR also sorted out their Achilles’ heel and met the minimum weight in Hungary and since then they didn’t stop winning. So RBR have all their technical issues sorted and both championship wrapped before the summer break. They were also expecting a penalty from the cost cap saga, so they have probably started developing their 2023 car before anyone else so they could negate the effect of the penalty in question.

    Ferrari brought their final upgrade package in Suzuka and the car is an open lab with the new PU installed on Leclerc’s car that was detuned again in Mexico and this to understand their mysterious loss of pace caused by the TD039 which effects will cascade to 2023 project. Mercedes even if they will sort out their aero concept for next year, they are still lagging power wise with regard to both Ferrari and Honda.

    I expect RBR to be even more dominant next year because they will be able to fine tune an already dominant car and make it even more reliable. Another thing is that the changes aimed at reducing purpoising next year are only going to benefit them because their car concept had it under control out of the box.

    The only was someone is going to challenge RBR for both championships next year is that Toto jump ships and become the Ferrari team principle and bring with him the entire Mercedes pitwall or Mercedes recruiting the entire Ferrari design and PU department because they have demonstrated that they know how to build a fast F1 car. The rumours coming from Italy suggest that they are going bold again with regard to the 2023 F1 project.

    Though what’s the point of designing a fast F1 car if it will be managed by a bunch of clowns… but that’s another story.

    1. @tifoso1989 Good points all in all, although concerning one specific aspect, I don’t see how RBR could’ve realistically started developing next season’s car in anticipation of a budget cap penalty since work on next season’s car (in all teams) began long before this whole saga first arose & them knowing back in January-March what would happen at this time of year is effectively impossible & by this I mean knowing they’d exceed the cap 6-8 months in advance.

      1. @jerejj
        RBR have tackled the financial regulations with the same way they normally tackle the technical regulations. It was just like Newey switching from design to accounting :) They were certainly expecting the FIA and other teams to hit back at them. It’s true that the financial statements submission were finalized in March but RBR certainly knew long before their submission that they have overspent.

        Another thing is that Binotto was furious with the FIA and want them to check immediately on RBR’s accounting for the 2022 season. There is no way for me that RBR didn’t anticipate the effect of a potential penalty. Just my two cents :) I could be wrong though.

        1. @tifoso1989 Fair enough & probably right.

    2. Stefano Domenicali has been known for his integrity, fairness… but certainly not for being competent.

      Domenicali cost Ferrari the 2009 season when the FIA basically awarded the championship to whichever team most invested in the dodgy double diffuser. Adrian Newey later described the process; Mosley basically got the FIA to rule in favour of Brawn to spite McLaren and Ferrari, which he saw as the driving forces behind FOTA. Ferrari, then the reigning world champions, did basically nothing.

      Then in 2011, Ferrari almost got its way in Silverstone when the FIA finally clamped down on the dodgy blown diffuser business. Ferrari actually won that race! Then, Ferrari again did nothing as the FIA buckled under the pressure of Red Bull and others to go back on their technical directive. Red Bull predictably continued to dominate the season afterwards.

      A year later, a lot of technical people pointed out that Red Bull was using an questionable if not outright illegal floor. Ferrari again sat by as Red Bull scored good points and wins, and then passively accepted how the FIA offered Red Bull the chance to ‘just change it’ starting at a later race. No protests were ever made by Ferrari against these dodgy cars, and obviously Alonso later lost the title to Vettel by a mere handful of points.

      Ferrari is never going to win a title if they don’t get good at playing politics. There are many ways to do this, it doesn’t have to be theatrical like Red Bull or insinuating like Mercedes – Jean Todt was neither of these things – but they have to get in the arena. It sometimes seems like Ferrari is the only team that thinks F1 really is just a motorsport where whoever has the best car and driver combination on race day wins. It’s not.

      1. MichaelN,
        I agree with all what you have said. Domenicali has been always politically passive, always on the receiving end of what the others were doing. Ferrari were denied countless times by the FIA between 2010-2013 to do modifications for reliability purposes to its V8 engine while Renault kept developing its engine and introducing performance upgrades disguised as “reliability fixes”.

        One case I remember is the double fuel tank that caused Vettel’s exclusion from the 2012 Abu Dhabi GP. The issue was that the FIA didn’t find the required amount of fuel in the primary tank for post qualy checks. RBR were confident that required quantity of fuel was in the car. It was reported back then that Ferrari asked the FIA to introduce a similar fuel system for better reliability but were denied by the FIA who said that the Ferrari engine was already reliable and such modification wasn’t necessary.

        Red Bull have escaped punishment after being caught by the FIA of running an illegal engine map in the 2012 German GP. The FIA claimed Red Bull’s engine was delivering less torque for a given throttle position in the mid-range of the engine’s rev band which was a breach of article 5.5.3 of the technical regulations itself, but also because it could offer an illegal aerodynamic benefit as well.

        Domenicali was passive and Ferrari didn’t protest and bother to put pressure on the FIA to properly punish Red Bull. If Vettel was excluded from that race, Alonso would have been world champion. The Flexi wing saga, instead of getting RBR trick banned, Ferrari opted to start producing flexing parts themselves.

        One of the reasons Domenicali was passive is that he was too loyal and afraid to stand up to his former boss Jean Todt and never ever bothered him. Jean Todt has been known to never forget the people that worked with him. That’s why he called Domenicali in the Jules Bianchi accident investigation commission and later recommended him for the position of CEO of the sport.

        Ferrari changed their soft line with the FIA once Marchionne (RIP) was in charge. He immediately started by using the veto to stupid FIA proposition that was meant to force manufacturer to sell PUs at a reduced price. Jean Todt was furious with Ferrari to the point that he was pushing to remove their veto right in the last Concorde agreement negotiations.

        All this is nothing compared to the disaster Domenicali has made when he signed up the hybrid rules based on the fact that Ferrari did have the best KERS system in 2009 and 2011 where in reality the PU was a very complex project that required a specific know how that Ferrari didn’t have at the time.

  12. So, how does he know?

    Hmmmmm…

    Probably not.

  13. Good luck with that Stefano.

    I seriously doubt next year will be much closer. RBR are really doing it at a trot because their competition really has failed to step up.

    With budget caps, it’s going to take time. Teams really will have one shot (cost wise) to get it right and all except RBR have a heck of a lot to do to even get close.

  14. Shouldn’t any mentions of this season’s Red Bull dominance be caveated with “Red Bull admitted to illegally overspending on the car”?
    Seriously!

  15. Well, what also helps in bringing the field together is fining the fastest team following an investigation (led by a former Mercedes employee) that brought to light a staggering 0,37% overspend..

    1. Mayrton: “a staggering 0,37% overspend”

      People use percentages far too often when they think it makes their argument sound more convincing, or in Horner’s case, makes it sound authoritative and insignificant. 1.8 million POUNDS is about 2 million USD. An overspend of 2m USD on a budget of 145m USD is more like 1.3% over budget. About 50m of Red Bulls total budget went on consumables, and about 45m on facilities, catering, electricity, phone costs, etc, which leaves about 50m for car development (the variable element in this equation). Whether intentional or not, if you overspend on the total budget by 2m, the overspend all goes into car development, and then you are looking at a 4% advantage.

      Talking about percentages is overall pretty meaningless if you’ve got nothing to compare them with. What we should be asking is what specifically were Red Bull able to do last season with that extra budget that they wouldn’t have been able to do if they had been compliant? And without knowing that we don’t really know if they’ve got lasting advantage out of it for this season and next.

      1. Talking about percentages is overall pretty meaningless if you’ve got nothing to compare them with.

        That is what percentages are for. 0.37% vs the cap. It was clearly explained. This is typically a case of one people wanting there to be a breach. And luckily they for them they found one that they could blow totally out of proportion.

  16. Nice comments for shareholders and advertisers. Not much to do with actual racing team abilities or where they will be next year.

    Sure they have confidence, but they lacked in several areas, would be more clear if he commented on those and how they plan to fix them.

Comments are closed.