Binotto: We lack that Schumacher winning mentality

Binotto: We lack that Schumacher winning mentality Schumacher celebrates Ferrari

Mattia Binotto admitted that the Ferrari team he currently leads lacks the winning mentality of the Michael Schumacher golden era they enjoyed at the turn of the century.

The 52-year-old, Swiss-educated Italian engineer, has seen it all at Maranello since he joined their famed engine department in 1995, experiencing the incredible highs and inevitable lows of Formula 1’s greatest team, particularly the marvellous Schumi period.

Speaking at the Gazzetta dello Sport festival where he was a VIP guest, Binotto was asked to recall his first F1 victory experienced wearing the red of the Scuderia staff – Schumacher’s famous victory at the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix.

It was the first victory for a Ferrari V10 in F1, a great success for the team’s engine department where Binotto worked, it was also Schumi’s first win for the Reds, in his seventh race since he joined after his back-to-back titles with Benetton in 1994 and 1995.

1996 Spanish Grand Prix was Mattia’s first ‘victory’ in F1

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Binotto recalled the rain-soaked race in Barcelona: “It was my first victory and when I heard the anthem I realized what it means to be Ferrari, but then we started winning the championships in 1999 and 2000.”

Asked what ingredient they had then that triggered the success that was to come later: “That Schumacher winning mentality we had at the time and that pushed us to do better after each victory.”

And indeed he won two more times that year but for things to really gel was in 2000, at the Jean Todt-run team of the time. Prior to that Schumacher was on thin ice with Ferrari president Luca de Montezemolo under pressure to release the German at the end of 1999. It took five years for the combo to deliver like none before them.

Fast forward to today, Binooto is in his fourth year as Ferrari team boss, next year is his fifth and, one would imagine, time to deliver or time for his paymasters to final an alternative five-year plan (which F1 so loves) for the oldest team in the sport.

In Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz they have the services of two very capable, winning drivers; the Monegasque, an early championship leader, is now second in a title fight that is all but won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen; while the Spaniard is not far off his teammate in races, if not qualifying.

Binotto: We kept our promise that we would be competitive again

As for Binotto’s expectations of his drivers, he said: “We want more victories. I have said it before and I repeat it: we have the two best drivers in F1. They get along very well with each other and for the contribution they make, for how they help each other they contribute to the growth of the team.

“When we talk on Fridays and Saturdays after the sessions about what one or the other feels, there is an open, sincere exchange. They both know that improving our car and our team means growing to beat the others.”

But it is well known that Charles and Carlos are not the problem – although both Sainz and Leclerc have made driving errors that were costly – the real damage, as widely reported and witnessed on race day Sundays, has been the disarray of their pitstops and dubious strategy calls which simply have not cut the mustard against their slick almost error-free rivals Red Bull, who are walking away with both F1 titles this year.

As for the state of the team now, Binotto ventured: “It’s no longer enough to do your homework well, to win you have to keep progressing and improving: and for that we have to give 120% if not 130%. We have had very difficult seasons, we come from sixth place in 2021 in constructors: They were years that have marked us because we have been under pressure and criticism and, in a way, they formed us.

“We had promised that we would be competitive again and we kept our promise. However what I want to say is that between having a high-performance car and top drivers, the ability to consolidate the ability to maximise every situation that comes up is still a step to take,” admitted Binotto.

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