Mattia Binotto, who did not attend the last two races in order to start working with his engineers on 2023 in Maranello, will be in Abu Dhabi this weekend for the final round of the 2022 season where he will no doubt have to answer numerous media questions about his future at Ferrari. This website has learned in the last few hours that Binotto will be removed from his position as team principal by the end of the season.
Despite an excellent start to the season, Ferrari has made a number of strategic mistakes in 2022. It’s not just a matter of the team’s strategy, it’s also a matter of the team’s ability to keep up with the times. The 53-year-old Italian will be replaced by Frenchman Frederic Vasseur, head of Alfa Romeo (Sauber), next season.
After two very complicated years, Ferrari thought it could return to the forefront in 2022. Charles Leclerc won two of the first three Grands Prix (Bahrain and Australia) of the season in a very strong car before seeing Max Verstappen pass him and then crush the drivers’ championship. After that point Ferrari have made countless errors on the pitwall and threw away points. With a resurgent Mercedes breathing down their neck, the team is in disarray.
However, Mattia Binotto defended his record at the end of the summer. “Everything can never be perfect. I think it is always possible to improve. There is no doubt that we need to improve on several points: aerodynamics, the chassis, the powertrain,” he told Motorsport.
“However, I think I had a very good team for strategy and I don’t feel that is a weakness.” and here lays the problem for the Ferrari directors when the evidence clearly shows otherwise.
Anger in Brazil
In the latest case during the Brazillian Grand Prix, Binotto has explained why his team did not want to swap positions between Carlos Sainz and team-mate Charles Leclerc much to the anger of their Monegasque driver.
Both Ferraris were on relatively new soft tyres in the closing stages, which allowed them to easily pass Perez in the Red Bull, who was still on older mediums. When the places seemed to be occupied with the two Mercedes at the top, followed by Sainz and Leclerc, the Monegasque knocked on the radio if he could take over the podium place from Sainz.
“Think about the World Championship if the positions stay like this,” pleads Leclerc twice to the pit wall.
“Well done, Charles. You did the best that was possible for us. There were other reasons why we couldn’t do the swap at the end.” replies Ferrari race director Laurent Mekies,
Leclerc promptly retorts, “I have no idea what other reasons you are talking about, but whatever.”
Speaking after the race, Mattia Binotto explained that swapping positions between the two drivers would have been ‘too risky’.
Binotto defends tactics
“First of all, swapping positions with our two cars on the back straight was certainly tricky, because Charles had Fernando [Alonso] and Max [Verstappen] right behind him. So it would have been tricky and kind of dangerous,” explained Mattia Binotto in a video conference from Maranello after the race.
“But on top of that, we knew we were under investigation for what happened behind the safety car with Tsunoda.”
“We were cleared by race direction, so we were – let’s say – comfortable enough, but we didn’t have the conclusion at that time…so it was still risky, because a five-second penalty for example, would mean Carlos would have lost more than one position. So, for the constructors’ championship, it was better to stick to the positions and the gaps on track.”
After the Brazilian Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc is second in the drivers’ championship on equal points with Mexico’s Sergio Perez, while Ferrari is still in second place just 19 points ahead of Mercedes.
Prior to this point of the weekend, Binotto has experienced much criticism for qualifying when the decision was made to run Charles Leclerc on Intermediate tyres (the only one on the grid) in Friday’s qualifying session when the track was still dry.
“Obviously, when you have weather like that it’s always a lottery,” explained Binotto.
“I think the fact that Kevin [Magnussen] was on pole, or Lewis [Hamilton] eighth on the grid and Sergio [Perez] ninth, proves that it was a lottery, right? We were wrong because we were the only ones in Intermediates and not in Slicks. But I think these kinds of mistakes, in such a lottery situation, always happen,
“These mistakes can also turn into a good decision, right?
“But when I look at the bigger picture with the team, it’s the process that led us to make such a decision that I think is more important than the decision itself. Was it right or wrong? Why did we do it and the others didn’t?”
Scuderia Ferrari Statement:
In relation to speculation in certain media regarding Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto's position, Ferrari states that these rumours are totally without foundation.
— Scuderia Ferrari (@ScuderiaFerrari) November 15, 2022
Binotto out, Ferrari denies reports
With Brazil and the entire season displaying multiple signs of pit wall failure, the powers that be in Maranello have made their final decision.
According to reports from La Gazzetta dello Sport and Sky Italia, the 53-year-old Italian will not be reappointed next season and could be replaced by Frederic Vasseur, currently the boss of Alfa Romeo.
The Frenchman’s name has been closely examined by Ferrari president John Elkann this summer and TJ13 understands from sources within the team that the decision to go with Vasseur is almost certain.
In the last hour, Ferrari has officially denied these reports via Twitter