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Ferrari team principal Binotto video conference launch SF21

Editor’s Desk: Is Mattia Binotto the right leader for Alpine?

Ferrari team principal Binotto video conference launch SF21

Mattia Binotto’s name has been coming up recently as the rumour mill regarding the next Alpine Team Principal went into overdrive following Otmar Szafnauer’s sacking from the French team.

Over the course of the 2023 Belgian Grand Prix, Alpine has parted ways with Otmar Szafnauer, their Team Principal since 2022, and Alan Permane their employee of 34 years with his latest post being Sporting Director.

The team as well lost the services of their Chief Technical Officer Pat Fry who was announced to be heading to Williams, and while Szafnauer and Permane were fired as part of a management shakeup, Fry’s decision to leave the team seemed to be taken months ago according to his new boss at Williams James Vowles.

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That all followed the departure of Laurent Rossi, replaced as CEO by Phillippe Krief earlier in July. Rossi was moved into what was called “special projects”.

When the team previously known as Renault was rebranded in to Alpine in 2021, Cyril Abiteboul, the team boss since 2016 was fired by Renault CEO Luca de Meo and Alpine brand CEO Laurent Rossi and was replaced at the time by Executive Director Marcin Budkowski and Racing Director David Brivio, the latter joining from Suzuki’s Moto GP team.

Budkowski and Brivio did not last long at Alpine, and Szafnauer joined from Aston Martin in 2022, while the team’s special advisor and four-time Formula 1 Champion Alain Prost also left.

It also worth mentioning that several technical figures have left the team since 2018, including Technical Director Nick Chester, Chief Technical Officer Bob Bell , Head of Aerodynamics Peter Machin and engine chief Remi Taffin.

Now, Alpine’s Vice President Bruno Famin has taken over the reins at Alpine as interim Team Principal as they French outfit are yet to announce a permanent replacement for Szafnauer.

Which brings us to Mattia Binotto

Elkann: I am not satisfied, still too many mistakes

Ever since Szafnauer’s ignominious exit from Alpine over the course of F1’s weekend in Belgium, the name of Mattia Binotto has been circulating around the sport’s circles, the Italian himself shown the door at Ferrari following a disappointing 2022 season and replaced by Frederic Vasseur.

Binotto has been linked with Alpine, with some reports even claiming he was present in the paddock recently.

Now a quick word on Szafnauer, he was not given enough time to achieve something with Alpine, as one season is hardly enough time for any person to deliver change, and while losing Fernando Alonso may be pinned on him, he inherited the Oscar Piastri situation. He may have mismanaged that last incident, but was that enough to fire him?

With the decision for the managerial upheaval seemingly coming from above as De Meo seems to have grown impatient following his team’s disappointing 2023 season so far, Enstone seems to be developing a revolving door culture much like that at Ferrari, so are they becoming the “French Ferrari of Formula 1”?

On to Binotto, he was left to fight at Maranello with no support whatsoever. The rarely spotted Ferrari Chairman John Elkann and Ferrari’s CEO Bendetto Vigna – who knows nothing about racing or F1 – were hardly considered any support, which meant Binotto was the fourth Scuderia boss to fall on his sword since Stefano Domenicali in 2014.

But will Binotto be a good fit for Alpine?

Well first we know he is an engine/power unit guru, and that is an area Alpine are lacking as their Renault-supplied power unit is reportedly 30hp down on power compared to rivals, which is behind the recent talks of the power unit equalization discussed in the latest F1 Commission in Belgium last weekend.

This is an area Binotto can definitely add value for Alpine, and while his success with the new F1 rules in 2022 was short lived, under his watch Ferrari produced a rapid car in the F1-75. However the team’s operation under his watch was lacking, and we at GrandPrix247 have always insisted that Binotto needed help.

Over his 25 years or more working in Maranello, Binotto has learned how to deal with all the politics behind the scenes, maybe not much, but he did last three years in the hot seat, and maybe he can use that experience to deal with the similar situation now developing at Alpine.

Former F1 driver and respected pundit Martin Brundle commented on the Binotto rumors on Sky Sports F1 over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

Brundle admitted he had “heard the rumour” and added: “This is a funny old place as you know, you can start a rumour just for fun and see how quickly it comes back to you as fact.

“But it’s not out of the question. Binotto has got a lot of experience, obviously in the Ferrari system, and knows about running a Formula 1 team.

“Obviously, it didn’t work out for him at Ferrari otherwise he’d still be there. But I wouldn’t be surprised if that was announced, no,” Brundle concluded.

So while there is a risk of a déjà vu for Binotto if he decides to join Alpine, it might also be worth a shot if he really wants to get back into F1.

As for Alpine, they can only gain if Binotto joins them, but they need to give him time to deliver.