F1: Binotto’s departure creates double problem for Ferrari with successor




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The announcement last Tuesday (29) about the departure of Mattia Binotto of his role as team leader of the Ferrari at Formula 1 confirmed what had been predicted for weeks. And with the dust starting to settle, Maranello faces a double problem in the search for a successor to the Italian, who leaves the automaker after 28 years.

Ferrari said in the statement that the process to find the new team principal was already underway, with “expected to be finalized by the end of the year”. Frederic Vasseurhead of Alfa Romeois the favourite, with connections being made for weeks by rumors in the paddock.

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But replacing the person at the top of its F1 operations isn’t the only challenge that John Elkann, chief executive, and Benedetto Vigna, chief executive, will have to face: they also have to hunt for a new technical director.

Upon taking over at Ferrari in 2019, Binotto assumed an unconventional dual role in the paddock, as there was no choice of a replacement for the technical director role after that.

Binotto grew up at Maranello after starting out as an engineer, eventually becoming head of Ferrari’s engine department before taking over as head of the technical department in 2016 following the departure of James Allison.

As a result, Binotto has remained involved with Ferrari’s technical department for the last four years, delegating some responsibilities but maintaining oversight and the operation of the team.

With that, Ferrari will have to face the challenge of filling not just one, but two of the key roles in an F1 team. And the first indications show that the automaker will hardly have names from the house ready to take on the challenge.

On the team principal’s side, the proof comes from the fact that Ferrari does not have a successor ready to announce along with Binotto’s departure, needing to look outside.

Mattia Binotto, Ferrari Team Principal, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Laurent Mekies, Ferrari Racing Director

Mattia Binotto, Ferrari Team Principal, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Laurent Mekies, Ferrari Racing Director

Photo by: Ferrari

Unless Ferrari can find someone with a similar experience to Binotto, being able to fill a dual role as team principal and technical director, it is very likely that its internal structure will need to change, potentially returning to a more conventional approach. with the two separate jobs.

But the added challenge on this front is that many established, top names in F1 would be subject to long quarantine periods. When Aston Martin ‘stole’ Dan Fallows from Red Bull for this same role as technical director, it had to wait 10 months before he could start the job, and that only happened because the teams reached an agreement to reduce this period.

It would be a lot to ask of Ferrari to get an outsider into the team in time for the 2023 season, which suggests that an internal promotion is the most likely path, although that would also lead to a revamp of the technical department.

As important as it is for Ferrari to find the right person to lead the team going forward after Binotto’s departure, securing a strong technical director is the other key battle the brand now faces, particularly given the strength of these departments at Red. Bull and Mercedes.

Binotto’s departure creates a more complex domino effect than simply bringing in an equal successor, if such a successor exists. That means there’s no time to waste if Ferrari wants to establish the lead in place, to try to mount a solid challenge for the 2023 titles.

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Podcast #206 – Does Binotto’s departure solve Ferrari’s problems?

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