Rumour has it that Formula 1 team boss Mattia Binotto will be sacked from his role as team principal for Ferrari, which would be an astounding move on the eve of the 2021 F1 season.
It is said that Ferrari is looking at options beyond Mattia Binotto after two seasons with the team, both of which are considered ‘underwhelming’. The main source for this rumour is from Czech Ferrari GT driver Josef Kral via his Youtube channel. (edit – at around 9.05am GMT, this video was changed to private)
According to Kral, it has already been decided that Binotto will be let go, and at the moment Ferrari is only waiting for testing to see how the car performs. If it performs well, he will be given a dignified goodbye and “thanks for building a good car for the team”.
If true, the news would represent a real twist. 2021 should be a transition year for the Italian team in view of the major regulatory change of 2022.
Binotto himself had announced that he would spend less time on the track this season in order to be able to follow the development of next year’s car more closely. Laurent Mekies will replace the current Ferrari Team Principal in the races in which he will not take part.
Further, according to the journalist Serhan Acar, Binotto will have been removed from the role of team principal to join the FIA World Motorsport Council, representing Ferrari. Therefore, the team would avoid letting one of the best engineers of the current F1 run free, as recently happened with Aldo Costa, Lorenzo Sassi or James Allison.
Binotto admits that everything is on the line this year saying:
“As the team principal of Ferrari, I am fully aware of the responsibility I have got. I don’t feel the pressure, but the responsibility and the pride. We simply need to do better and that is part of my responsibility.”
Former Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali says he has “nothing to recommend” to Mattia Binotto other than to stay focused on Ferrari’s “priorities”.
Interviewed by Corriere Della Serre, he said: “I see a company looking for stability that can guarantee competitiveness, but I have nothing to recommend to my friend Mattia Binotto.
“At Ferrari, it’s about staying focused on priorities without being distracted by the enormous pressure that surrounds you.”
It remains to be seen how soon the change will happen, but sources indicate it could be imminient.
Sul rumors che sta circolando circa un licenziamento di #Binotto, almeno da quel che mi risulta sembra impossibile possa succedere ora, o almeno fino alla vettura 2022 che dovrà essere per lo meno competitiva,
a meno che la stagione non sia estremamente deludente.#Ferrari
— Giuliano Duchessa (@GiulyDuchessa) March 5, 2021
UPDATE: Josef Kral retracts statement
Over the weekend, the source of the rumour, Josef Kral issued a statement via Twitter saying that it was purely his opinion during comments via his Youtube channel.
— Josef Král (@JosefKral) March 6, 2021
Perhaps then this rumour can be put to bed? Potentially… That being said, Kral is the 2nd person of note to have issued statements on Ferrari then retracted them. Mika Salo, a current FIA steward, commented on details of Ferrari’s ‘punishment’ by the FIA for running a suspected illegal engine in 2019, resulting in a huge power loss last year.
Very possible that this is a case of errors in judgement; that two drivers, one a current GT Ferrari driver and the other ex Ferrari and employee of the FIA, merely stating opinion as fact during live internet broadcasts within days of each other, then quickly retracting them.