Mattia Binotto believes Ferrari’s return to form in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix shows the team are capable of doing a “proper job” after taking much criticism in recent months.
Having started the season with arguably the fastest car on the grid, Ferrari’s title challenge collapsed with a series of reliability issues, driver mistakes and operational errors as Max Verstappen stormed to his second consecutive World Championship.
The nature of Ferrari’s defeat has led to intense speculation over the future of Binotto, with reports prior to the season finale suggesting he is to be replaced as team principal for next season by Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur. However, those claims were swiftly denied by the team.
Despite failing to win a race since the Austrian GP in July, Ferrari enjoyed a strong end to the season in Abu Dhabi as Charles Leclerc utilised a one-stop strategy to finish second and beat Sergio Perez’s two-stopping Red Bull to the runner-up spot in the Drivers’ Championship.
With Ferrari tricking Red Bull into thinking they were stopping twice during the race, when in reality they had long committed to a single stop, Binotto praised his team for being sharp on strategy.
Per GPFans, he said: “It is great for the team, great for the strategists, great to have done a solid weekend.
“P2 is the balance of the entire season, not only [the race].
“We certainly did a proper job. The dummy pit stop on the Red Bull was the right call.
“Happy for the team. When Ferrari is making mistakes, there is always a lot of criticism but we know as well these guys can do very well.”
With tyre management a major factor at Yas Marina, Binotto believes Ferrari’s performance was a function of their increased focus on long runs in practice, which has become a theme of the closing races of the season.
“I think it was a difficult weekend for tyre degradation and tyre management, not only for us but it was the case for other drivers and the case for Mercedes and Checo.
“Pushing too hard on the first laps, the risk was to destroy the tyres so in order to manage it well through the entire stint, you had to be very careful at the start but you needed a good balance of the car.
“If I look at ourselves, what we did is we started to put some more efforts on the high-fuel runs [on Friday] to make sure we had the right balance for [the race].
“The balance of the car and the drivers’ capability has made the difference in terms of stint pace and the race distance speed.”
Abu Dhabi performance proves Ferrari don’t require root-and-branch change for 2023
Rip it all up and start over again – that has been Ferrari’s response to failure ever since their last World Championship success in 2008. Has it got them any closer to adding to their tally of titles?
With the inevitable rumours surrounding Binotto’s position growing, there is a real risk that Ferrari will be drawn into doing the same thing once again and expecting a different result. Is this the time for the Ferrari board to hold their nerve?
The boldest move they can make over the winter is not to ring the changes, but to choose stability.
The hardest part of building a Championship-winning team is to create a competitive car, which Ferrari – with Leclerc claiming more pole positions than any other driver – had for the majority of the season.
His name may be above the door these days but Binotto’s influence in Ferrari’s 2022 revival, with the most innovative car design on the grid, should not be taken for granted. Why toss away all that creativity, all that genius?
Root-and-branch change is not required here. Instead, the focus should be on giving Binotto everything he needs to smoothen Ferrari’s imperfections.