When you are born in Imola and when your family later puts down its roots in Monza you can’t avoid getting involved in racing, whether on four wheels or two. Stefano Domenicali is no exception. Born in Imola on 11 May 1965, the Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal now lives with his family in Monza. He has thus turned into a long-term pendulum along the route of the Via Aemilia, first from East to West then in the other
direction: the steady midpoint of his pilgrimage being Ferrari’s base at Maranello – the only company for which Stefano has ever worked.
So it’s difficult to find anyone who could lay better claim for this to be their home race, given that the Domenicali family home is right in front of the park that houses the Autodromo di Monza. That means that often – or at least whenever the Scuderia isn’t taking him all over the world – Stefano enjoys the nature of one of Europe’s most beautiful public parks. “Whether by bike or on foot, the Parco di Monza is a sight to see: during the few weekends when I’m at home I always try to take a look around with my children,” he says. “In a way it’s funny that for one weekend a year the same place becomes my place of work but at least it’s the only Grand Prix where I can get to the track by bike in five minutes flat!”
“I grew up with the sound of engines because the San Marino Grand Prix was the most important event of the year in my home town,” adds Stefano. “That was the race that made me fall in love with Formula 1.
My history with Monza began in 1995, when I was already working for the Scuderia. It wasn’t a lucky start because that year the race was really cursed for us: we were dominating when first Alesi’s TV camera fell off and ended up hitting the front left suspension of Berger’s car, then Jean was forced to retire when a wheel bearing failed.”
Fortunately as time went on, plenty of sporting satisfaction came his
way: of Stefano’s 17 consecutive appearances on the pit wall, eight have been won by a driver from the Scuderia. “There have been some extraordinary successes but the one closest to my heart was certainly the last one, Fernando Alonso’s win in 2010,” he says. “It was a very tense race, won with exceptional teamwork: drivers, pit stops, strategy – everything was perfect that day. Because of this, after the official podium ceremony – such a thrill to be up there together with Fernando and Felipe – we all went to that fantastic platform that is suspended above the crowd to see the sea of our fans enjoying themselves. Those are the kind of emotions that make you love this sport and which give you the determination in the hardest moments.
“One of these coincided with another edition of the Italian Grand Prix in 2001. On Tuesday there had been the attack on the Twin Towers and everyone was obviously shocked, then on Saturday there came the very serious accident to Alex Zanardi, a true friend, at the Lausitzring, that we were watching live on television. There was a very particular atmosphere in the paddock that weekend, with many people deeply upset – notably Michael who for some days even thought of missing the following race, scheduled for Indianapolis in the USA. We wanted to send a tangible signal of closeness to the American people and we raced for the whole weekend without our sponsors’ logos and with the F2001’s nose painted black. For me personally it was very hard: what happened made me think how necessary it is always to keep perspective on everything that happens in the tiny microcosm of Formula 1: outside there is a world that is much, much bigger and we must never forget that.”