What now for Binotto free of Ferrari gardening leave?


Italian media diarised 1 December 2023 as the end of Mattia Binotto’s ‘gardening leave’ for Ferrari, the former team boss is now a free agent and expectations are he will pop up in the Formula 1 paddock sooner rather than later with a team.

The fact that Binotto was on gardening, probably taking the car covers off his collection, and going on leave suggests he was not fired but rather resigned as the great Italian team was simply woeful under his tenure as Ferrari team principal. He succeeded Maurizio Arrivabene.

History shows that the late Sergio Marchionne, was perhaps a great businessman in his time but his understanding of F1 was very limited and seriously lacking.

So much so he felt that Binotto would be a better team leader than Arrivabene, shafted the latter out of the team but within the FIAT Group, to Juventus, leaving the engineer to run the show. Make that micro-manage the show which was reportedly Binotto’s management style

In the media firing line, as all Ferrari TPs always are, Binotto was simply ill-equipped to deal with leading the team. He was replaced at the end of last year by Fred Vasseur, who has spent his time turning Maranello chaos into order and trying to make the car Binotto built go faster.

MotoriOnline report: “Mattia Binotto is now free. The former Ferrari man has completed the ‘gardening leave’ period imposed after his termination with the Scuderia at the end of last season, and from 1 December he is free to join any other team.”

Which F1 team needs Mattia right now?

Marchionne Arrivabene Binotto-001

What team is the question? There was talk of Binotto joining Alpine’s flailing F1 project but that appears to not be on the cards, while Audi’s F1 foray from 2026 may well be another option for the Italian. The timing could be perfect as the Swiss team bids farewell to Alfa Romeo and has no team principal while they mark time. And of course that 11th team in waiting: Andretti Global…

Three teams (make that mega F1 projects) are in urgent need of a master F1 engine builder which Binotto was and, one assumes still is, if left to focus on extracting horsepower rather than running things.

While it was Marchionne’s lack of vision, that promoted Binotto to the leadership role he was destined to fail at, could’ve been rectified by the new bosses at Ferrari, aka John Elkann, by convincing Mattia to stay on board, focusing on the tech side, with Fred Vasseur left to handle the fluff and the BS distractions.

But that was not possible it seems by the powers that be at Maranello. One can imagine that when faced with the offer of sharing the burden of running the F1’s most famous and important team with Fred Vassuer or resigning, Binotto chose the latter.

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Now a year down the line, with his garden most likely spruced into tip-top shape over the past year, Binotto is a formidable F1 engineering ‘gun for hire’ whose fate we should know before the 2024 F1 season begins, even shortly according to more than one paddock whisper. Watch this space…

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