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28.02.2017 - Maurizio Arrivabene (ITA) Ferrari Team Principal and Mattia Binotto (ITA) Chief Technical Officer, Scuderia Ferrari

Mister-X: Arrivabene and Binotto need one another

28.02.2017 - Maurizio Arrivabene (ITA) Ferrari Team Principal and Mattia Binotto (ITA) Chief Technical Officer, Scuderia Ferrari

Interestingly, other than in Italy, media are all but ignoring the internal strife that is boiling at Ferrari, where the power vacuum left behind by the late Sergio Marchionne has set the stage for a power struggle between team principal Maurizio Arrivabene and technical chief Mattia Binotto.

Sky Italia, the country’s Formula 1 broadcasters, have uncovered a team insider they codenamed ‘Mister-X’ who has provided insight into the status quo within the hallways of Maranello.

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This season the team was run almost as two separate entities with Binotto calling the shots on the technical side and Arrivabene running all the other management elements of the Scuderia.

It is well chronicled how in the second half of the season the Reds went the wrong way with their development programme and the SF71H lacked when it mattered and, as a result, they had to play second fiddle to Mercedes in both championships again.

With their season imploding, at Suzuka, Arrivabene was critical of the car which obviously irked Binotto and since then the relationship has deteriorated to the point that they no longer speak to one another.

A destabilising crisis, they can ill-afford as they recharge for 2019, now demands hands-on involvement of the hitherto ‘invisible’ Ferrari president John Elkann who has some serious decisions to make as he takes control of the family jewel.

Mister X describes a scenario at the great Italian team dating back to the summer when Marchionne was set to make major management structure changes within the team, but everything was left in the air when he died on 25 July.

Sky Italia’s ‘Deep Throat’ Mister-X explained, “Marchionne had planned a very different future with a leading role for Mattia Binotto. We don’t know what it would have been but undoubtedly he would have been handed more freedom and also have him involved in the decision-making process that until now has been above his pay grade.”

“We are talking about a major role, but exactly what Marchionne’s envisaged for Binotto we will never know, however, these days he seems restless, so it is reasonable to think that there was something more on the table for him than his current tasks and responsibilities.”

Elkann and his equally out-of-sight CEO Louis Camilleri have some serious management issues to sort out, and decision time is now. The team’s spin-doctors, intentionally or not, by saying nothing at all have done a great job to keep everyone guessing on the state-of-affairs behind the Maranello gates.

There are three obvious choices for the Agnelli heir and his consiglieri: first, Arrivabene stays on as the all-powerful team principal who everyone answers to and Binotto allowed to leave to Mercedes who desire him highly; second, Arrivabene departs and Binotto becomes team boss; and finally they work together in harmony.

Mister-X believes the latter is the solution, “Arrivabene and Binotto can sit around a table and decide to move forward together, perhaps they have already done so, I hope so.”

“It is not required to go on holiday together to do a good job, but you need mutual trust and above all respect, both professionally and personally. Formula 1 is pure stress, where cracks become chasms.”

“If one or the other goes, decision makers in Turin will have to sort out a replacement which won’t be easy as we are almost at the start of the 2019 season. A company will always choose the one that creates the least problems. Replacements obviously also depend on who is available on the market.”

Concluding, Mister X, perhaps representing the sentiment on the factory floor, argued, “I wish Binotto and Arrivabene would put aside their differences and realise the opportunity they have.”

“Ferrari’s keys are in their hands, I find it an incredible opportunity, they can make history together. But they need one another and let’s be honest you don’t always work with colleagues you like, do you?”

“Do you think it is easy for Christian Horner to work with Helmut Marko?”

“Sometimes it is really worth putting aside ego and personal pride when there is an important goal to be pursued, and I think that on this front the motivations for Arrivabene and Binotto are certainly not lacking,” concluded Mister-X.

If the Ferrari Feud is indeed “fake news” as Arrivabene claims, then why not diffuse it all with a handshake photo between the pair? Pop it on Twitter and prove it is fake, end of story. These days it is very easy to put out fires through social media.

Instead, the silence is deafening, prompting rumours and uncertainty that have never lived well on Via Abetone Inferiore #4.

Several outlets in Italy are reporting that Elkann has been a regular at Maranello in recent days, suggesting that crisis management is happening, now we await the outcome.

Meanwhile, there are 90-days left until the start of the 2019 season-opening Australian Grand Prix on 17 March at Albert Park in Melbourne, peace and harmony reign at Mercedes…

Big Question: If I were John Elkann I would…..

Arrivabene: I am very angry and very disappointed