Formula 1: Binotto is no longer director of Scuderia Ferrari
Ferrari and Binotto, it’s over: the director of the Italian Formula 1 team, in office since 2019, presented his resignation on Tuesday, as widely expected in the paddock after another disappointing season at the Scuderia.
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« Ferrari announces that it has accepted the resignation of Mattia Binotto who, on December 31, will step down as general manager of the team, » Ferrari said in a statement, without having named his replacement for the moment.
The 53-year-old Italian, often criticized this season, is paying for his failure to regain the world title despite a much improved car in 2022.
At the head of sports management, Binotto certainly had his best result this season, 2nd in the drivers’ championship, with Monegasque Charles Leclerc, and 2nd in the constructors. But he again failed to bring Ferrari back to the top against Red Bull and Max Verstappen, crowned world champions.
Reinforced in September by John Elkann, the president of the Ferrari company, Binotto had been given on the departure mid-November by the Gazzetta dello Sport. Friday, other titles of the Italian press had announced it, before the formalization Tuesday.
« We want to thank Mattia for his many essential contributions during his 28 years at Ferrari, in particular what he is doing to enable the team to be competitive again in the season that has just ended, » said Benedetto Vigna. , managing director of the Ferrari group, quoted in the press release.
“A strong team”
“I leave a united team that has grown, a team that is strong and ready, I’m sure, to achieve as much success as possible. I believe that this decision (to leave) is the right one, even if it was difficult to take,” said Binotto.
The famous brand with the prancing horse has not won the driver’s title since 2007 with the Finn Kimi Räikkönen, and that of the constructors since 2008, against McLaren.
Arrived in 1995 at Ferrari as an engine engineer, Binotto rose through the ranks of the Scuderia to become technical director in 2016.
In 2019, he replaced Maurizio Arrivabene after two further failures in 2017 and 2018, when Sebastian Vettel had to admit defeat by Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes).
Binotto will not have done better, on the contrary: still 2nd among the manufacturers in 2019, behind Mercedes and ahead of Red Bull, Ferrari had its worst year in 2020 since 1980, finishing only 6th in the championship.
The engineer born in Switzerland but of Italian nationality then saved his skin and Ferrari began its renaissance in 2021 (3rd among manufacturers), hoping to return to first place thanks to the new technical regulations in 2022.
At the start of 2022, all the lights are green for the Reds, who seem to have the fastest single-seater. Charles Leclerc wins the first Grand Prix in Bahrain, followed by his teammate Carlos Sainz. The Monegasque and the Spaniard finished 2nd and 3rd in Saudi Arabia, then Leclerc won again, in Australia.
“Reliability” and “strategy”
But the rest will be much more complicated, with only two other victories (Sainz in Great Britain, Leclerc in Austria) in the other 19 races.
Despite a dominant single-seater in qualifying (12 pole positions against eight for Red Bull), Ferrari experienced serious setbacks in the race (four victories against 17).
At the end of the season in Abu Dhabi, Leclerc targeted “three key elements” to improve for 2023: “reliability”, “strategy” and “tire management”.
Leclerc, propelled as a Ferrari driver very early in 2019, entered the hearts of tifosi thanks to his victory at Monza that season. But his relationship with Binotto withered in 2022, in particular due to the episode of Silverstone: Leclerc led the race before losing to his teammate due to a failed strategy, then had his suspenders pulled up by Binotto, in front of the cameras.
The most successful stable in history with 16 coronations and 242 victories, Ferrari will have to quickly regain stability before the start of the season on March 5 in Bahrain.
The name of Binotto’s successor is not yet known: « The process to identify the new general manager has begun and should be concluded at the beginning of next year », Ferrari simply indicated.
One name comes up often, that of Frenchman Frédéric Vasseur, director of the Alfa Romeo team, powered by Ferrari. And very close to Jean Todt, the French boss of the Scuderia when it often won, with Michael Schumacher at the wheel.