Luca di Montezemolo thinks Ferrari need to “reinvent” themselves to reach the F1 pinnacle again – while remaining non-committal about Mattia Binotto’s future.
But the former Ferrari president believes if the Scuderia were to seek a new team principal, they would be better off looking for someone from outside Formula 1.
Recently having celebrated his 75th birthday, Di Montezemolo was the figurehead at Maranello between 1991 and 2014 – so he oversaw some initially lean times for the Prancing Horse before the Michael Schumacher-inspired golden era.
Having taken on Jean Todt as team boss, Di Montezemolo has experience of what and whom is required to succeed in F1 – and his latest comments are perhaps influenced to a degree by the fact the Frenchman was working at Peugeot, focusing on rallying and endurance racing, before his move to Ferrari in 1993.
In an interview with L’Equipe, Di Montezemolo was asked about Binotto, whose position as team principal has recently been the subject of speculation with Ferrari having thrown away several opportunities this season to increase their tally of four race wins and potentially challenge Red Bull for the titles.
“Should the team manager be changed? Who am I to say,” commented Di Montezemolo.
“Ferrari is like the Italian flag, a national monument. Before I brought Jean Todt to Maranello in 1993, I thought about this choice for a long time. There was a huge circus in the media. If I was looking for a new boss, I would look outside Formula 1.
“However, if we only look at what Red Bull Racing or Mercedes-Benz are doing, the problem will not be solved. We have to reinvent ourselves, create a new dynamic.
“Ferrari have built an extremely competitive car. One person alone does not win World Championship titles. Formula 1 is a team sport.”
While not prepared to suggest Binotto should feel under pressure, Di Montezemolo did drop a hint that he feels the 52-year-old may not necessarily be in the role he is best suited to.
“Mattia Binotto is intelligent enough to always protect his team,” said the Bologna-born executive, who was succeeded as Ferrari president by Sergio Marchionne in 2014.
“He catches the bullets for his people. You have to understand mistakes and then clean them up. Binotto is an excellent technical director, but running Ferrari’s racing department is different.”
John Elkann is the current president of Ferrari, with Benedetto Vigna the CEO, and Di Montezemolo was asked about their style being rather more hands-off regarding the F1 team than his was.
“Formula 1 is something very special. Just being a good manager or marketing man, that doesn’t guarantee success in the premier class,” said Di Montezemolo.
“You need passion and dedication. You need to be present day and night. You have to be very political in your approach to support your team. You have to be strong and keep your squad together.”
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