F1 CEO makes surprising comparison when asked about Lewis Hamilton controversy

Over 120,000 people are expected to attend this weekend's Belgian GP.

The second half of the 2022 Formula 1 season gets underway this weekend, with the driver and fan favourite Belgian Grand Prix.

After a dominant first half of the year, Max Verstappen has taken an 80-point lead into the final nine races, with Red Bull Racing also in cruise control of the Constructors’ with a 97-point lead.

Charles Leclerc is the only candidate really who can stop the Dutchman from claiming consecutive World titles; however, the Monegasque driver needs victory this weekend should he wish to put the Red Bull driver under some pressure.

Many deem the title fight already over due to the size of the gap.

F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali thinks otherwise, with anything being possible in F1.

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“From the commercial perspective, I would love to see another season where you going to arrive at the last lap of the last race – maybe with less this confrontational point – because that would be terrific, it would be fantastic.

“[Yes] 80 points, they are a lot. But in F1, also from my previous experience, you have to say ‘never say never’.”

Domenicali was Ferrari’s team principal when Kimi Raikkonen won the 2007 Drivers’ Championship, where the Finn came from a long way back to beat both Sir Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso to the crown.

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“Remember 2007, two races to go, we were behind by 17 points and Kimi was able to win the championship in Brazil and no one was expecting that,” the Italian said.

Whilst nowadays 17 points isn’t many, back in 2007 a victory only claimed a driver 10 points, considerably less than the 25 seen today.

“I know it’s a big number, but I don’t see why Ferrari should [not get] back again in the fight with Red Bull.

“Red Bull is a very strong team, Mercedes will grow. But really the only thing that I can say – because I cannot comment on what because of my position, as you can understand – is that they shouldn’t give up at all up to the last moment.

“Because we’re going to have a lot of a surprises, I’m sure, in the second half of the season, in all dimensions. So mistakes, reliability, weather conditions, who knows?”

It’s been a challenging year for Domenicali as CEO, as himself and FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem have had to somewhat restore the sport’s reputation.

F1 arguably became tarnished after the 2021 season finale, where race director at the time Michael Masi failed to follow the rulebook regarding the race’s late Safety Car for Nicholas Latifi’s crash.

As is well documented by now, Masi should’ve not only allowed all the lapped cars to unlap themselves; he should’ve also kept the Safety Car out for the final lap.

Had this happened, then the race would’ve finished behind it, with Hamilton claiming the Abu Dhabi GP victory and, most importantly, an eighth World Championship.

Alas, the rules weren’t followed, and after an investigation into Masi’s handling of the incident it was deemed that he had indeed made a mistake, with the FIA putting the mistake down to “human error”.

It left a dark cloud over what was potentially the greatest season in the sport’s history; however, the new regulations for this season have almost given the sport a much needed fresh start, something which seems to have restored the sport’s reputation.

Domenicali doesn’t think the championship’s reputation is “damaged”, with mistakes possible in all areas.

“In terms of image, it’s like when there is a football World Cup [final] and there is a referee that’s making a mistake and there is a penalty given that is not there, but it’s there,” he added.

“So I don’t think that is a damage of the reputation, of the solidity of the championship, because that’s something that can happen.

“What I see, to be honest, is that the FIA has taken seriously that fact and they want to change it and to improve the system.

“But at the end of the day, the performance of all the people involved in F1 has something related to his personal capability or personal skills or personal good decision or personal mistakes. And this is something that will be always in every sport.”

Despite the season finale being eight months ago, former F1 race director Masi is still receiving death threats and an onslaught of abuse, both of which are completely unacceptable.

The Australian is still being accused by members of the F1 online community of purposefully making Hamilton lose the title, something Domenicali “cannot accept” with mistakes being something “everyone can do”.  

“What I can, because otherwise I wouldn’t be in this position, I never, ever think that someone is doing something on purpose to be against someone,” Domenicali revealed.

“This is something that I cannot accept because if I would have a little doubt about it, I wouldn’t be here.

“You can have mistakes, yes, 100%. You can say mistakes, teams or drivers, everyone can do it. But I don’t want to judge something that could have been because of a personal vision of something that has happened as a damaged reputation for F1.”

The sport has recovered better than anyone could’ve predicted from last year’s controversial end, with more races set for future calendars, more countries wanting to host, new manufacturers wanting to join and hundreds of thousands of fans buying tickets to attend.

The sport is booming like never before!

Domenicali revealed that all of the remaining races are already sold out, with a number of races next season having also come close to selling all of their tickets.

“If you look [at] what is the follow-up on what we are having this year, it’s immense,” he said.

“So if that would be so negative, I wouldn’t see the numbers of people that are coming to the races or following everywhere around the world.

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“From Belgian up to the end, all the grands prix are sold out,” said Domenicali.

“So a lot of people have already booked the tickets to come.

“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 and that’s really something that is already a reserve. So I really hope that we’re going to have a great race and a great second part of the season.”