Ferrari have denied reports in Italy team principal Mattia Binotto is set to be sacked and replaced by Alfa Romeo counter-part Frederic Vasseur; Ferrari finished second behind Red Bull in the 2022 constructors’ championship after a campaign plagued by errors
Last Updated: 21/11/22 10:10pm
Mattia Binotto insists he is “relaxed” over his future with Ferrari despite speculation he is set to be replaced as team principal.
Ferrari made an excellent start to the 2022 season as Charles Leclerc won two of the first three races, but their hopes of ending long waits for both the drivers’ and constructors’ titles faded as Max Verstappen and Red Bull ultimately dominated.
The Italian team’s failure to maximise results in a car that was fast and highly competitive for much of the season, with reliability issues and poor strategy decisions major factors, has increased pressure on Binotto during the second half of the campaign.
Ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Ferrari denied reports chairman John Elkann had decided to sack Binotto and replace him with Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur as “totally without foundation”.
Asked how the reports had made him feel, Binotto said: “Obviously it’s not down to me to decide, but I’m pretty relaxed.
“The reason why I’m relaxed is that I have always open, frank and constructive discussion with my bosses, with my chairman, not only on the short term but on the medium and the long term.
“More than that, if I look back at the season, yes, we had a few up and downs and today we are not the fastest car on track, but we achieved our main objective to be back and competitive in the new era of the 2022 cars.”
Ferrari came into the 2022 campaign having failed to win a race in the two previous years, and appeared to have adapted brilliantly to the sport’s new design regulations as Leclerc duelled with Verstappen in the early stages of the season.
However, despite remaining very strong in qualifying, Ferrari were repeatedly outperformed by Red Bull on race day, with team and driver errors playing a role.
Strategy blunders left Leclerc and team-mate Carlos Sainz frustrated on various occasions, while reliability issues forced both drivers to take multiple grid penalties for replacing engine parts.
“I think it has been a fantastic season, generally speaking,” Binotto said. “We were back competitive, which was our main objective for this season. We had a fantastic car at the start of the season. I think that no one was expecting Ferrari to be so strong.
“That is proving that the team has worked very well through difficult moments. After 2020 and 2021 we remained united. I think it’s a team which has not only worked well but has proved to be capable.
“Yes, there are still a lot of things that we need to progress, weaknesses have been shown. But I’m pretty sure that as we did in the past, we will review and try to address them. The team back at the factory is fully focused on trying to improve for 2023.”
Leclerc drove brilliant at the Yas Marina Circuit to hold on to second on the day and in the drivers’ championship, while the result also helped Ferrari seal second ahead of Mercedes in the constructors’ standings.
“I think this season has been outstanding in terms of pole position and qualifying, not as good in terms of race pace,” Binotto added.
“We know that we need somehow to improve the race pace, because then strategy – or whatever is around it – is a lot easier if you’ve got a strong car in the race itself.
“I’m relaxed, but more than that I’m really focused on what we need to do, and concentrated with the team.”