Several recent reports in the Italian media inform that the future of Mattia Binotto as the team principal of Scuderia Ferrari is in doubt, after the Italian side had a difficult 2022 Formula 1 season, despite the solid start of the campaign, with two race wins from the first three races.
The main source of the information was Leo Turrini, a well-known Italian journalist long associated with the inner workings at Scuderia Ferrari. He feels the length of time without winning a Formula 1 championship could determine the Ferrari top management to make a change regarding the organizational structure of the team, especially taking into consideration the fact that the F1-75 was a strong project in early stages, but the Italian side was not able to fully capitalize on its speed in the first part of the year, only to gradually be outdeveloped by both Red Bull and Mercedes.
Charles Leclerc secured two race wins in the start of the season, behind the (back then) impressive F1-75, but what followed was a series of poor strategy decisions from the Maranello pit wall and several reliability issues which meant Ferrari lost at least three more wins in the first half of the 2022 Formula 1 campaign. This allowed rivals Red Bull to build a solid gap at the top as the championship progressed, with Max Verstappen easily winning the title in Japan, with an advantage of more than 100 points against the Monegasque driver.
As Mercedes have continued to improve their car, the Silver Arrows have now been able to match the F1-75 cars in terms of race pace, which Leo Turrini feels could lead to a change in Maranello. However, the renowned Italian journalist also pointed out that it may in fact be a mistake to remove the current team principal:
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“For sure, John Elkann (Ferrari chairman) will make Mattia Binotto weigh the Mercedes one-two in Brazil,” Leo Turrini said, as reported by the Italian media after the Brazilian Grand Prix – “There’s a lot of chatter around and it’s inevitable – the World Championship has been missing for the Rossa for too long. But it would be a mistake. Change for change’s sake is no guarantee of victory. And the 2023 car is already ready. But I want to be frank – Binotto should only stay if he has the full confidence of top management.” – he added.
Regarding who could replace Mattia Binotto as Ferrari team principal, Leo Turrini did not want to provide a direct response, but hinted that Frédéric Vasseur (current Alfa Romeo boss) or Antonello Coletta (head of Ferrari’s Hypercar programme) are among the possible successors.
What the 2022 Formula 1 championship has clearly shown, and the views of many pundits from the world of Formula 1 agree, is that Ferrari needs to change its approach in order to improve and be able to operate at the same level as Red Bull and Mercedes.
If Mattia Binotto is in fact the person which needs to be changed can be up for debate, but given his current role and tasks at the head of the Maranello team, he is the one who takes the blame for the several issues seen during the current campaign. While the power unit reliability problems should be solved by the technical department for next season, the main issues have been related to race strategy: Charles Leclerc lost at least two three race wins due to questionable tyre strategies (Monaco, Hungary and Silverstone), while too many times have we heard both Charles and Carlos questioning the team’s calls in radio exchanges.
In case Ferrari lose second place in the Constructors championship after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final race of the current campaign, after the F1-75 proved far superior to the W13 for most part of the year, the inquest at the Italian side could be long and heads may roll. If Mattia Binotto will indeed be one of the people in the firing line remains to be seen.