Domenicali: “…I am very proud of what we achieved.”

Stefano Domenicali

Ferrari's team principal Stefano Domenicali showed the true soul of Ferrari when he spoke after Felipe Massa won the Brazilian Grand Prix and clinched the Constructors' championship, but 18 seconds later lost the Drivers' series to Lewis Hamilton.

Domenicali was passionate, generous, admiring, complimentary, humble, philosophical and understanding. And like the racer that he is, he appreciated the extraordinary finale that came down to an amazing last few last seconds. "It is impossible to say that that isn't true. It was an incredible end to the season and once again I think we have to be proud of what we have done. There is no reason for us to look back and say, what if, what if. With what ifs you can build the world.

"The only thing I can say is that we are extremely happy with the achievement we have done today on the Constructors' championship. In eight of the last 10 years we were champions. It is something only Ferrari has done so I am very proud of the team, and all of the guys – here and those at home. For us it is a great achievement."

Domenicali went onto pay tribute to the maturing driver who is Felipe Massa, who so nearly won the Drivers' championship. "I am very happy also for Felipe. He did an incredible season – no one in the beginning could have said something like that.

"This year Felipe did two races that will remain in the history of his growing career. One was Hungary, where unfortunately we had a problem but he was really fantastic. And there was today. Great maturity and I am very proud to have Felipe in our team, because that is the way that we should look ahead for our future. You know, we are still very hot after the end of racing, but you can be sure that after a couple of days we will be fully committed for next season. For Felipe to lose the championship by one point, as it was last time but the other way around, I know it can hurt.

"I saw in him a great serenity inside because he did the maximum. That was really a great day today."

Domenicali continued. "I think that Felipe has matured a lot. He is really a great driver. Now he's done a lot of pole positions, so on the single lap he is already on the top. And he has grown significantly in performance lap by lap, and the consistency of that. And also today in the mixed conditions, with the pressure where you don't know where you are going then it shows a lot. So I think within these kind of races, you can see how he will go ahead. From this victory lost you can be strong inside and that will be the case for him."

There were a few seconds when Felipe Massa was World Champion after crossing the line, and some of the team were celebrating before Lewis got past Glock. Did Stefano believe Felipe had won the title? Ever the realist, Domenicali replied "to be honest, I knew in that moment you can be too emotional and not rational. So I had a document checking off what happens if scenarios. So I was checking, okay first, second, third, fourth – still champion. And then I saw Lewis fifth, I said okay it is not done."

What about the outgoing World Champion, Kimi Raikkonen? "I think for sure this year was a difficult year for him. But he is happy because we won together as a team. And he is looking forward to starting again, because for sure this is not the one that he knows. I already said that a lot of people were talking last season about Valentino Rossi being finished this year, and he has actually done a lot. So I am expecting the same kind of approach in 2009."

Domenicali also reported that he had been in touch with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo. "Yes, he was very proud, very, very proud of the team. We have a briefing soon and I will have a speech with all the guys, and he is very close to Felipe. He said that for him he is a champion – not only for himself, but also for us."

Ferrari had won one championship but lost the other. Would Domenicali have preferred it to be the other way around? "No. I think to be honest, I am very proud of what we achieved. I am very proud of what we achieved."

Domenicali was also complimentary of Lewis Hamilton. "I went there to congratulate him because in sport that is the way it has to be. I went there, I did my job. I think it is correct. At the end of the day he won by one point and it means that he was better by one point. He is a World Champion, he lost last year by one point and next season we will see."

Domenicali was asked if the season and the finale had been good for Formula One, and replied philosophically. "I believe that it is very important for the future of F1 to be constructive when we have to be constructive, and to fight just on the track where we have to fight on the track in a sporting way. I think that is a very important step for the future. We are looking ahead for many important things from the regulation point of view, so that is the way it should be in my point of view."

Finally there was a positive point to be taken from negatives, said Domenicali. "I think that, as always, with the what ifs you win every time. We have to take the negative points of this year in order to improve and to change the things that didn't go well. But in a very cool way, rational.

"But I would like to stress one point that I am very proud of. That is the fact that all the people who are part of this team share the same values, the same passion, the same philosophy. They are all honest people and are all proud to work for this great team. I have the honor and the privilege to be their boss." There speaks a leader.

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