Mattia Binotto has resigned as team principal of Ferrari effective at the end of the year.
Ferrari has begun its search to replace its outbound manager but says it doesn’t expect to confirm a new appointment until next year.
“With the regret that this entails, I have decided to conclude my collaboration with Ferrari,” Binotto said in a statement. “I am leaving a company that 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, to 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.”
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The news comes less than a fortnight after the team denied reports in the Italian media that Binotto’s job was under threat, describing them as “rumours … totally without foundation”.
That statement was issued only after Binotto sought clarification about his role from the executive, though neither president John Elkann nor CEO Benedetto Vigna put their names to any supporting statement.
Binotto subsequently offered his resignation this week. Whether he did so to test the faith of his CEO in him or because he wanted to go out on his own terms rather than be pushed remains unclear.
Binotto admitted at the final round of the season in Abu Dhabi that the focus on his hold on the principalship had been distracting.
“It has certainly been a difficult one because criticism is never easy to be managed,” he said, per Autosport.
“And more than that, I think for me, somehow [I needed to] try to keep the team focused and concentrated on the job.
“The criticisms are there to distract a team, and keeping a team focused is never easy. It has been difficult, but I think that will make me only stronger in the future.
“I know that we need to count only on ourselves. That is the most important lesson of the season.”
Read in retrospect, the commentary could just as easily have been about internal forces destabilising his position as much as about media reports that the executive was waiting to swing the axe.
WHY HAS BINOTTO FOUND HIMSELF ON THE OUTER?
Whatever the precise events that led to Mattia Binotto handing in his resignation, it’s clear Ferrari’s 2022 results are what kept speculation about his position simmering in recent months.
Despite start the season with the fastest car and comfortably leading both championships in the early rounds, Ferrari and Charles Leclerc only just clung onto second place on both title tables by the end of the year.
Four wins, 12 pole positions and runner-up in both championship battles is enormous progress on the last two seasons, but it’s accepted that the Scuderia underdelivered with the tools at the team’s disposal and its head start on the initially unreliable Red Bull Racing.
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“If I take a step back, considering from how far we came from last year, it‘s an amazing step forward,” Leclerc said. ”But obviously I cannot ignore our middle part of the season that has been super-frustrating.
“We went from leading the championship with quite a bit of points to being behind by quite a bit of points, and that was a frustrating part of the season.”
As articulated by Leclerc, three things underpinned the team’s underperformance.
“Reliability has been a problem at one point of the season, which we paid the price for later on with penalties and other things,“ Leclerc said.
“Strategy — I think we‘ve done too many mistakes at one point of the season
“And tyre management — we haven‘t been consistent enough. We sometimes have very bad races and we don’t seem to have the understanding yet of how to have a good tyre management all the time.
“These are the three key aspects in which we are focusing on at the moment.
There were the team’s strikes, all apparently attributed to Binotto and his leadership, that led to the Ferrari lifer exiting the team.
But there is apparently a fourth element to Binotto’s downfall.
Ferrari’s famously chaotic strategising and generally haphazard execution reportedly strained relations between Leclerc and Binotto to the point the French press claimed they had stopped talking.
Reports further claim that Leclerc’s camp has been the least satisfied with Binotto’s leadership and that it was the Monegasque’s influence that proved decisive in his ousting.
Leclerc is contracted to Ferrari until the end of 2025, with suggestions circulating in the paddock that he may seek a move away from the team after that if it can’t pull its act together in the interim.
Audi is set to enter the sport in 2026.
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WHO WILL REPLACE HIM?
It would therefore seem more than a coincidence that Frédéric Vasseur’s name has been most heavily linked to the top job in Maranello.
Vasseur has a long history with Leclerc. The Monegasque won his GP3 title for the Frenchman’s ART team and later made his Formula 1 debut for Alfa Romeo after Vasseur moved into the principalship in Hinwil.
He would appear to be the Leclerc-approved candidate. If the rumours were true, the principal switch would also double as a significant power play by the 25-year-old five-time race winner.
But Ferrari said in its statement that it has no candidate lined up to replace Binotto despite reports connecting Vasseur to the role. It suggests Binotto forced Ferrari’s had ahead of time.
There have been reports in the Italian media that McLaren principal Andreas Seidl had been approached, while RacingNews365has said that Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner was sounded out for the role. Both reportedly turned down Ferrari’s advances.
Horner is the reigning title-winning principal and Seidl in engaged in the project to restore McLaren to the front, but even still, would either have genuinely shown interest in the job that has returned to being F1’s poisoned chalice?
WHAT’S NEXT FOR FERRARI?
Maranello’s most famous revolving door was thought to have stopped spinning with Binotto’s appointment back in 2019. After Stefano Domenicali, Marco Mattiacci and Maurizio Arrivabene blew through the place in four years, Ferrari lifer Binotto, whose previous role heading the technical department had powered the team to unlikely title challenges in 2017 and 2018, was thought to be the perfect blend of technical mind and man-managerial ability.
But there was a similar amount of change at the executive level. Binotto had been sized up for the leading role by Sergio Marchionne, who died shortly before his appointment. Current president Elkann and former CEO Louis Camilleri oversaw his early years, but more recently Camilleri was replaced by Benedetto Vigna, who has been busy reshaping the company since his 2021 arrival.
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None of this is new for Ferrari. While it’s tempting to see the Italian team through the lens of its ultra-dominant and uber-stable 2000–04 guise, more often than not the team has lurched from leadership spill to leadership spill and roiled with internal angst. Its dry spells are as legendary as its streaks of success.
What’s arguably unusual about this particular instance of bloodletting is that it comes off the back of massively improved form and optimism that the team should be set up to capitalise on its great strides under the new regulations. Binotto should have felt entitled to at least another year to turn that progress into silverware.
Instead now the team’s success or failure under this set of regulations, which expires in 2026, will ride entirely on this decision. By extension that means success or failure will ride entirely on the decision-makers — Elkann, Vigna and Leclerc, if the latter’s rumoured influence in the decision proves true.
Binotto had made a virtue this year of shielding his team and attempting to keep it united as it suffered through a rough second half of the year.
In 2023 the shield is gone. Nothing will protect those making the massive gamble from the consequences.