Ferrari flags

Inside Line: With Binotto in charge what now for Ferrari?

Ferrari flags

It did not take long for proper Formula 1 news to explode in 2019, Mattia Binotto replacing Maurizio Arrivabene is mega-headline grabbing stuff and tons of news will be generated by this huge development for the sport with many questions to be answered including: What now for Ferrari?

During his four years in charge of Ferrari, Arrivabene came close but no cigar. Last season proved to be his downfall as he made some highly questionable decisions in a campaign that was the Scuderia’s to lose, and they did.

What was Arrivabene thinking at Monza when Kimi was set free when his wingman role was most needed as Seb’s title campaign was starting to wobble? That weekend will have been a good reason enough to sack the guy in charge.

Then, with tensions high between him and Binotto, Maurizio lambasted his team at Suzuka which was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back. Binotto or Arrivabene had to go…

During his tenure as team principal, Ferrari has become the most user-unfriendly team in the paddock and their boss, a marketing man, should have known better than to marginalise media who dared to be critical of the Reds.

Perhaps the reason that most F1 sites are too scared to report what really goes on at 4 Via Abetone Inferiore.

Big credit to Gazzetta dello Sport for persisting with the report, we were one of a few English F1 news outlets running the story. Even in Italy, not everyone saw the signs that the Binotto vs Arrivabene civil war would end in tears for one of them.

The Gazzetta team did a good job to stick to their guns and believe their sources deep inside Maranello, even their media rivals applauded Gazzetta’s reporters for their efforts.

I am predicting there will be a few days for this news to digest and then, of course, we will need to hear from the man himself, Binotto must have a plan and they will need to be aired at some point.

Ferrari president John Elkann has been all but invisible despite trying to mediate the feud before finally accepting that Binotto was the way forward, no doubt a board decision. It would be great to hear from the Agnelli heir who at 42 needs to be seen to be doing more within the team.

With a dysfunctional media department, the Scuderia would do well to provide more soundbites from their big players to avoid speculation and disinformation about the team. They would do well to look at Mercedes to see exactly how it should be done. This is a sport after all, not a perpetual Cold War that Arrivabene’s Ferrari were fighting.

Meanwhile, from wherever he is vacationing, Sebastian Vettel will be watching things with interest. Although he has publically backed Arrivabene, it is known that there have been tensions between the four times F1 world champion and the former Marlboro man.

Arrivabene was a big advocate of Kimi Raikkonen and was keen to retain the Finn for another year, but this took a dive when Nicolas Todt walked in with a deal, signed with Sergio Marchionne, which had Charles Leclerc in a Ferrari for 2019.

The team chief took this on the chin, accepting the change but declaring that Leclerc would learn from Vettel, suggesting a subservient role for the 21-year-old. Talk about shooting himself in the foot!

Leclerc is needed to push Vettel and beat him if possible, there is nowhere to hide. This is Ferrari where drivers have to deliver, their development financed at Sauber. Reeling in the youngster would be the biggest mistake.

If Binotto allows Leclerc free reign then the youngster has nothing to fear or lose ahead of his first season with the legendary team. He should be told: “Drive it as fast as you can and bring it home, everything else will sort itself out.”

How Binotto manages the dynamics between the two drivers will be interesting.

Vettel signed off in 2018 with a heartfelt letter to Ferrari staff, declaring his commitment to the team but revealing nothing of these latest developments.

The German admitted to his mistakes during last season’s campaign but has harped on about how they were “missing something” which in driver parlance means: performance, Binotto’s department. As mentioned interesting times…

Big Question: Your predictions: what will happen to Ferrari with Mattia the boss?

Vettel: Absolutely Arrivabene is the right man for the job