A power struggle is threatening to disturb the focus of Scuderia Ferrari’s progress and attempts to end a ten-year Formula One championship drought. German driver Sebastian Vettel managed to increase his lead over Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton to 14 points after winning the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix, as the Maranello team scored its second one-two finish of the season, following the Monaco Grand Prix.
But Italian media sources as well as the major German newspaper Bild report this week that a power struggle is taking place behind closed doors at Maranello. The power play is between Maurizio Arrivabene and technical boss Mattia Binotto, with the latter trying to take over as Ferrari team principal.
Bild, the German tabloid published by Axel Springer AG, informs that Maurizio Arrivabene, the current team principal of Scuderia Ferrari, has moved to involve major sponsor Philip Morris – his former employer – in the dispute. The first sign of Mattia Binotto’s push for power came some weeks ago, when Ferrari engine chief Lorenzo Sassi was demoted to the road car division. Ferrari chose not to comment on this situation.
But recent technical ideas used by Ferrari in the first part of the 2017 Formula 1 season, including adding oil to the fuel and an allegedly flexible floor, have been banned by the FIA, as both innovations were attributed to the creative atmosphere fostered under Binotto, but the Italian said: “I think the oil burning is not something directly related to Ferrari. And the floor, honestly, I don’t think there is any impact on our performance.”
Loyal to the Ferrari squad since leaving university in 1995 (he secured a masters degree in engineering in Modena), Mattia Binotto has worked his way up the Scuderia’s engine and technical departments, working as a test and race engineer, head of engine operations and chief engineer. With yet another reshuffle taking place at Ferrari midway through the 2016 Formula 1 championship, Binotto stepped up to the Chief Technical Officer position.
The news presented by German newspaper Bild and also published by the Italian media in recent days should only be taken as a rumour and does not seem to have a lot of credibility given the excellent work carried out by the Maranello team this season and the good atmosphere surrounding the Scuderia which has led to the positive results from the first part of the 2017 F1 championship.