No surprises…. Mattia Binotto resigns as Ferrari Team Principal
The 'news' dropped that Ferrari F1 Team Principal, Mattia Binotto, handed in his resignation in one of those scenarios that, when read between the lines, says - "you needed to resign, or else, you'd be fired". A friendly handshake with that departure is no surprise, but that is how the world works.
Binotto has been a loyal servant to the prancing horse. A career that spanned 28 years with the team covering the tenures of Sebastien Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen, Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Jean Alesi and the goat himself, Michael Schumacher. The former technical boss turned team principal has enjoyed success turning disappointment around over the years throughout Mercedes' dominance and put Ferrari back on the map in 2022, taking full advantage of the new rule changes. Let's not forget that, but just like we've seen, your past successes do not ensure your future, and F1 can be an unforgiving environment.
Mattia Binotto said: "With the regret this entails, I have decided to conclude my collaboration with Ferrari. I am leaving a company I love, which I have been part of for 28 years, with the serenity that comes from the conviction that I have made every effort to achieve the objectives set. I leave a united and growing team. A strong team, ready, I'm sure, to achieve the highest goals, which I wish all the best for the future. I think it is right to take this step at this time, as hard as this decision has been for me. I would like to thank all the people at the Gestione Sportiva who have shared this journey with me, made up of difficulties but also of great satisfaction."
The writing was on the wall.
At the start of the season, it looked like no one could touch Ferrari — claiming a P1 and P2 at the Bahrain opener, waking up the Tifosi from their hibernation. That performance was, however, quickly eclipsed by the next few races leading up to the summer break, terrible strategy decisions being made, driver error and Red Bull dominance. The performance started crumbling, and Charles Leclerc's chances of a Driver's Championship slipped away from him gradually. The lowest point was when comments were made by Binotto himself, who said there wasn't an issue with Ferrari's strategy. This a clear case of denial in the face of something blatantly apparent to the public eye.
Further to that continued the spate of poor decisions, driver error and some reliability issues creeping in, which took its toll, and the rumour mill began churning that the big boss of Ferrari, Benedetto Vigna's relationship with Binotto, was souring. Vigna made it clear by saying, "I said it after last quarter, but I'm not satisfied with second place." Said to CNBC in an interview. Or, as my dad says, "Second sucks."
Given Ferrari's long-standing relationship with Binotto, they did the right thing by chatting with him and discussing the future. A future that Binotto would not be part of. But frankly, they did it six months too late. Granted, they gave him a chance to turn things around, but second chances are rare in the cutthroat world of F1. Empathy and sympathy have been weak points in the high-performance world of Formula 1. I am surprised that this took so long; quite honestly, it shows a crack in the decision-making process within the Italian giant. But hey, what's done is done, and the grappa's been spilt.
The main question that remains is, who takes over his spot now? Will Alfa Romeo's boss and firm favourite, Frédéric Vasseur take the reigns, or will there be a surprise in the mix with someone like Gunther Steiner taking the spot? Something tells me that this isn't quite the foregone conclusion everyone may think it is.
It's been one hell of an emotional roller coaster ride for Binnoto. One thing that's for sure: he certainly isn't chopped liver and has a wealth of experience and value to bring to any team when given a chance. After all, he is accredited with bringing Ferrari out of the slump they've been in prior years, following Maurizio Arrivabene's departure in 2018, by bringing the prancing horse into title contention conversation. Accolades are accolades, and whoever takes over will have big shoes to fill, but for now, I guess it's "arrivederci, Binotto."
Words: Brent vd Schyff