The real boss at the Ferrari F1 team

Things are not always what they seem and when we consider the Formula One team from Maranello, this is more often true than not.

Despite failing to win a championship since 2008, Ferrari are still the most successful F1 constructor of all time with 16 titles to their name. Next up is Williams with 9, McLaren and Mercedes have 8 and the new kids on the block have just clocked up their 5th during 2022.



Was Binotto really the boss of Ferrari?

Ferrari haver had 5 team principals since their last championship win and the affable Freddy Vasseur is the latest to take on the challenge.

At an extended media event this week Vasseur thanked his predecessor for a concise handover making his introduction to Maranello as easy as it could be. This typified Mattia Binotto’s persona, ‘a nice guy’.

Yet was Binotto really the boss during his days at the head of the Ferrari team?

Former Ferrari team manager Peter Windsor believes Binotto was doomed from the off speaking from his twitch stream.

“He kind of got in by default, almost like a temporary team principal. Nice guy, quite a soft person in general. You can go up and chat to him, he’s a good bloke and he’s quite a caring person, I think.



Mattia had to carry the can for the illegal engine saga

Windsor argues Binotto being an engine man historically was responsible for the controversy surrounding the legality of the 2019 Ferrar power unit.

“I suppose if you look back now, you could say he probably kept his job because if Ferrari had fired him then, it would have been admitting that they really had been cheating so they took their rap on the knuckles and continued,” Windsor muses.

Further, Peter Windsor suggests that Ferrari under Binotto had no proper management structures certainly between the strategy group and the race performance team where confusion often reigned supreme.

“There’s a group of three relatively young engineers who do the strategy at Ferrari and they seemed to have far too much power to overrule the race engineers at various moments, [the] classic example being the Hungarian Grand Prix when they kept Leclerc on the hard tyre,” explains Windsor.



Binotto failed to garner support

Windsor suggests Binotto didn’t have enough people around him who believed in him and wanted him to succeed, “I think that was maybe something Binotto couldn’t feel or just didn’t see, or maybe by last year he’d not got enough people on his side.” 

That’s not to say there was significant anti Binotto sentiment within Maranello, just a lot of sitting on the fence and waiting to see how the cards fell.

Further Windsor believes Binotto was much closer to Carlos Sainz than he was Charles LeClerc.



Mattia Binotto closer to Sainz 

“That’s a great thing for Carlos Sainz; it was a difficult [and] annoying thing for Charles Leclerc, who in reality and in my opinion is a faster driver anyway.”

“He’s got a bigger vocabulary in terms of what he can do with the car, particularly in race conditions and particularly under pressure in the closing moments of qualifying.”

Tension between LeClerc and Binotto came to a head at the British GP when during a late safety car Carlos Sainz was pitted for fresh rubber while race leader LeClerc was left out.



British GP debacle

At the restart, LeClerc was swamped by the cars behind on newer tyres and to rub salt into the wound Sainz went on to claim his maiden F1 win and LeClerc was left fighting Alonso to retain P4.

As Windsor recalls, Charles LeClerc was not backwards in coming forwards with his views over the radio

“And, obviously livid, he was having a go at everybody – particularly Mattia, I guess – on the radio on the in-lap and when he got out of the car in parc ferme, Binotto did this finger movement to Charles Leclerc like, ‘don’t you speak like that, I’m the boss here.’”

Peter Windsor claims it was in that moment he knew Binotto did not have the support of the team and his days were numbered.



Finger wagging ‘was the end’

“That’s not right. And at that moment, I have to say, I thought, ‘well, this guy’s days are numbered’ because there’s no way against a force like the energy that is Charles Leclerc, and how good he is ultimately, you don’t wag your finger and say, ‘don’t talk like that’ particularly if Leclerc has been hung out to dry.”

It begs the question whether Freddy Vasseur will succeed where Binotto failed in terms of commanding the respect of the personnel and being perceived as the man in charge.

If Binotto was never seen in this light, he was doomed from the off and never really the boss of Ferrari. At times Maranello has appeared like an independent amorphous being which goes through the emotions year in year out, but never really acting’s a cohesive whole.



Vasseur will recognise LeClerc potential

Peter Windsor backs Vasseur to succeed where Binotto failed and primarily by recognising Charles LeClerc as his best shot at a drivers’ championship, after all, they worked together at Sauber.

“Freddy’s bright enough to know how good Charles Leclerc is, I’m sure he is, and he will have a very, very logical management structure.”

“He’ll have good people doing the right thing. He’ll have the round peg in the round hole and that’s what Freddy does really well. That’s what he is, he’s a logical racing person.



No more F1 strategy committee 

Vasseur will be forced to address the ‘committee’ feel to the way strategy is managed during the race. Often the Ferrari drivers were canvassed for their views then there would be a delay before the pit stop calls were made.

“I think it’s a big thing for Ferrari, because they want it to be a big thing in a way of getting rid of everything that maybe came between Ferrari and winning a Championship in 2022.

Whether that will be enough, only time will tell.

READ MORE: Aston Martin boss takes a swipe at McLaren’s Zak Brown

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