Although the 2023 F1 world championship is upon us, the analysis of what happened last season is an excellent exercise so that some mistakes do not repeat themselves with a view to look for continuous improvement. Ferrari is certainly the team that paid the highest price, due to major struggles in operational management on the track and in the construction phase of the 066/7 power unit.
It was Mattia Binotto who paid the price, the former head of sports management who, absurdly, paid a heavy price for the great start to the championship which foreshadowed a triumphal year for the Prancing Horse. The course of the season has highlighted gaps that were too obvious in various areas to be able to hope of winning the world titles.
One of the most authoritative voices on the fate of the Maranello team is Jean Alesi. The Frenchman was one of the drivers most loved by the Ferrari fans, thanks to the fighting spirit which, in various circumstances, made up for the shortcomings of the Italian single-seaters in one of the darkest phases in the history of the Modena-based team.
Despite a crystalline talent, Jean’s experience in Ferrari was marked by bitter disappointments, due to a technological and structural gap which was too large to be able to fight against Williams, McLaren and Benetton. Who better than him can understand the frustration experienced by Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in 2022?
Through a recent interview, the 58-year-old from Avignon provided his view for understanding the difficult work of the Prancing Horse, who for a certain period seemed to have the fastest car on the grid with the F1-75 last year:
“Better does not mean absolutely perfect and in fact little by little some reliability problems arose which manifested themselves on several occasions, depriving the team of results that would have been very important and deserved. From there the work of great refinement began with a view to the future and I am sure that the two strands of commitment concern precisely the achievement of an excellent level of reliability on the one hand and the improvement of the ability to produce strategies from the pit wall, on the other ” – he pointed out.
Show your support for Scuderia Ferrari with official merchandise collection! Click here to enter the F1 online Store and shop securely! And also get your F1 tickets for every race with VIP hospitality and unparalleled insider access. Click here for the best offers to support Charles and Carlos from the track!
A sort of déjà vu for Jean Alesi, who remembers that the 1995 Ferrari 412 T2 had expressed great potential in the first part of the season, but the numerous mechanical failures together with a poor development forced the car designed by John Barnard to a disappointing second part of the championship.
A potential of the car that according to some stories made Michael Schumacher shout the famous phrase: “How did you manage to lose the world championship with an engine like that?”. In the years to come, The Kaiser was able to understand that in addition to the single-seater, many ingredients were missing to be able to aspire to winning the F1 world title.
In regards to the departure of Mattia Binotto, Jean Alesi believes that the Swiss-born manager paid the price for a huge performance step that inevitably gave way to technical problems. As well as the lack of preparation of the management relating to operations on the track which proved not to be good enough when the stakes were raised:
“Last year, from a tactical point of view, Ferrari was unwatchable at times. There has also been an undeniable improvement, a step forward in terms of results, but too often accompanied by too many problems. In the end, as often happens in these cases, it was Mattia Binotto who paid the consequences“ – he continued.
The former Ferrari driver also shared his opinion on the management of the Charles Leclerc / Carlos Sainz partnership. On this issue too, Jean had the opportunity to experience first hand the alleged favoritism towards his teammate. On the other hand, how can we forget the emblematic attack on Jean Todt, through the press, at the end of the 1995 Estoril Grand Prix, in which he was asked to give up fourth position in favor of Gerhard Berger?
Time has given Jean Alesi the maturity to provide a counter-current opinion on Mattia Binotto’s alleged preference for Carlos Sainz:
“There have been times when Charles Leclerc has been damaged by the strategy adopted in the race, but nobody thinks that this happened because someone in the shadows was plotting to make the Monegasque driver lose to Carlos Sainz. This would be a hallucinatory reconstruction, which is clearly not true.” – claims the former Ferrari driver.
In Formula 1, the empathy of a team principal towards one of the drivers can and must be limited to the human aspect. The treatment received by the team is defined in the contract, as well as any balance of power with one’s team mate. A plausible observation with a bitter taste, as this context certifies that performance on the track alone is not sufficient to establish a hierarchy if not expressly specified in the drivers’ contracts…