His 25 years at Maranello aren't shrugged off easily and he clearly maintains a great deal of respect for his former employers. Not that he isn't energised by the opportunities at Lamborghini... So how is he going to make his mark?
"I think the ambition we have is to make sure we put the base and foundation for a different dimension of Lamborghini," he says, referencing the presentation made shortly before in which he announced the opening of a new production line for building the Urus SUV. This doubles both Lamborghini's floorspace and its output, the circa 3,500 Aventadors and Huracans it currently builds (1,000 or so of those Aventadors) to be matched by a similar number of Urus 4x4s. Still less than Ferrari's total output but, relatively speaking, a huge moment for Lamborghini. The new line opens in April and brings with it new levels of connectivity and digitalisation, reflecting the brand's evolution from 'craft' built supercars into a modern car manufacturer under the umbrella of Audi and the wider VW group. Mock Winkelmann's sense of ego as much as you like; in his tenure Lamborghini has enjoyed six years of steady growth and turnover has doubled to over 900m euros since 2012.
A future he sees as bright. "I am very happy and optimistic because of Urus and I feel that Lamborghini 2020 will be more and more protagonist in this environment. There are a lot of companies coming with products that can be, let's say, very attractive but with the humble approach and knowing what is going on around us I think we can have a great future."
Humble approach? Not a description likely to be applied to the Urus when it finally makes its production debut, even if Domenicali confirms it will be built on shared group architecture in the form of the flexible MLB platform beneath the equivalent Q7 and Bentley Bentayga. "We need to maximise the benefits of being part of the group but we need to be unique with our product," he says, the general understanding being the Urus will benefit from (relatively) downsized turbo engines and hybrid assistance. These already exist within the group of course, including the latest 4.0-litre turbo V8s from Audi and Porsche plus the hybrid expertise gained from the latter's electric assisted Panameras and Cayennes. Diesel Lamborghinis? That may be a step too far but we'll have to see.
Will they be allowed to though in a world where emissions are so tightly legislated? "This is something to throw the ball in the air and see of course. In the future there will be more and more attention to the emissions there's no doubt," he admits. "We need to cope with that, knowing the world will be different from country to country in this respect. We have done a big effort to minimise that effect but, for sure, that will be an element that will define when it is the last moment. This has to be the spirit of our brand! When you hear the V12 this is something that gives emotion I can say is unique."
This reflects Domenicali's belief that a sense of theatre and spectacle is at the heart of the Lamborghini experience. Aged 52 it's the Miura that, to him, represents the brand's core values; he also cites the Countach as a game-changer. While still being respectful of his former employer's competitor products.
modern Lamborghinis have the dynamics to back up the looks.
Lamborghini's future path was, of course, laid out within the Winkelmann era but it's clear Domenicali's approach is, perhaps, more 'serious' and collaborative. Without ignoring the passion the brand has always traded on so heavily. For all his flamboyance Winkelmann was very much a company man; Domenicali is both more Italian but also realistic about the brand's future as part of a bigger group. "We are proud to be Italian, not necessarily with a passport but with attitude."