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Horner sees no Ferrari bias if Domenicali takes top F1 job

(Reuters) - Formula One should not fear any Ferrari favouritism if the Italian team’s former boss Stefano Domenicali replaces Chase Carey at the helm, Red Bull principal Christian Horner said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Russian Grand Prix - Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia - September 28, 2019 Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

The appointment of 55-year-old Domenicali as F1’s next chief executive, expected by next season, has yet to be confirmed officially by Formula One’s owners Liberty Media.

“Obviously the news about Stefano seems to be a fairly open secret,” Horner, now the longest-serving of the 10 team bosses and once linked to the F1 job himself, told reporters at the Russian Grand Prix.

“If he takes that role I think it’s great for the sport. He’s one of the good guys.

“Having competed against him when he was team principal of Ferrari he had a lot of integrity, he was a racer, a competitor, he understands the business.”

Domenicali is chairman and chief executive of Italian sportscar maker Lamborghini and also heads the governing FIA’s single-seater commission. He ran Ferrari from 2008-14.

His appointment would leave Formula One’s three top jobs in the hands of ex-Ferrari bosses -- Jean Todt is FIA president and former technical director Ross Brawn is F1’s managing director for motorsport.

“You look at the make-up of the top end of the sport with Jean Todt, Ross Brawn and Stefano and it looks like a mid-1990s or early 2000 Formula One setup,” said Horner.

“But I don’t think there’s any particular bias or love towards Ferrari from any of those individuals. I’m sure Stefano, if he takes the role, will be scrupulous in his impartiality.”

Rival fans have long sensed a bias towards the oldest, most glamorous and successful team -- cynically referring to the FIA in times gone by as Ferrari International Assistance.

“I’d be delighted for Stefano if that is indeed the appointment that is going to be made,” said Mercedes technical head James Allison, also an ex-Ferrari employee.

“I think we’ll be in safe hands with Stefano at the helm.”

Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul said the Italian, whose current Volkswagen Group-owned employer is not in Formula One, knew what was needed to support manufacturers.

“He also knows probably why they are not in Formula One,” added the Frenchman. “I guess he’s got an interesting perspective to offer in relation to that.”

McLaren principal Andreas Seidl called the Italian “a great choice.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Toby Davis