Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto explained in an exclusive interview with Sky Italia that he had to rehearse the call he made to dismiss the four-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel from the team.
The Italian team has decided to mix youth with youth by hiring rising star Carlos Sainz to partner their homegrown ace Charles Leclerc.
But the decision to oust Seb was not an easy one for the team principal, who broke the news to the German driver before the start of the 2020 campaign.
Binotto recalled, “I was at home, and before I called him I repeated mentally three times beforehand what I should tell him and how.
“The choice about Seb was not easy because we love him for what he has been, for the way he has behaved and for what he has given to the team over the years.
“But there comes a time when you have to have the clarity to make choices looking to the future. We are close to the start of a new technical cycle in 2022, and there is a team that is being built up in all areas.”
While the heart feels for Seb, the reality is that he has hit the worst patch in his career. Lacking confidence and incident prone, he is a shadow of himself during his pomp and glory years at Red Bull.
Meanwhile, Binotto clearly has his eye on the future of his team, “We have the duty and ambition to look to the medium and long term, and it is precisely on this rationale that the strength to make certain choices must be found.
“Did Seb get in the way? No, he did not hang up the phone. He is a very intelligent person, a beautiful person, and he has maintained his character during a season in which there has been no lack of difficulties. He was never negative. Instead, he was proactive and a very respectable person,” explained Binotto.
Meanwhile, on track, Seb is struggling to come to terms with the Ferrari SF1000, too often well and truly beaten by his younger teammate who is now the de facto team leader.
Next year, the upwardly mobile Racing Point operation morphs into Aston Martin, with great ambitions, providing a Seb with a lifeline to save his career which has hit an all-time low in his last season with the sport’s most successful team.