Ferrari GT driver Josef Kral has engaged reverse after generating a rumour that Mattia Binotto was set to be fired.
According to RacingNews365, the 30-year-old Czech racer had posted a subsequently deleted video on his YouTube channel claiming Ferrari had decided to axe Binotto as team principal or were about to.
The report said Kral’s claim was that Ferrari were waiting until after pre-season testing in Bahrain next week to announce Binotto’s exit and “thank him for a good car” in a farewell message.
However, Kral, who won a GP2 race at Spa in 2012 and describes himself as a “Ferrari 488 GT3 racing driver” on his Twitter profile, has now backtracked and said his comments were “taken out of context”.
He posted: “Just to make it loud and clear…some of my recent comments about Scuderia Ferrari have been misinterpreted and taken out of context…
“What I said was based on my own opinion and without any real base or information…I apologise if these speculations have created any issue.”
— Josef Král (@JosefKral) March 6, 2021
Binotto received heavy criticism last year for Ferrari’s poor performance which saw them finish sixth in the constructors’ World Championship standings.
From winning three consecutive races in September 2019, they fell off the pace due to a deficit of engine power following technical directives issued by the FIA.
That is a problem the Italian giants have worked to address for the forthcoming campaign as they hope to push their way back up the order, but a title challenge with drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz is unlikely to occur until 2022 at the earliest when the sport’s new regulations are introduced.
In the meantime, Ferrari have announced changes to their management structure aimed at helping Binotto lead the team back to success.
Binotto, who began stepping away from attending races towards the end of 2020, is due to continue spending more time at the Maranello factory.
The changes will see the chassis department reorganised into four key areas. David Sanchez will lead the vehicle concept section, chassis performance engineering will be headed by Enrico Cardile, chassis project engineering overseen by Fabio Montecchi, while Diego Ioverno will be in charge of vehicle operations.
Reporting to Binotto on the technical side will be Cardile for the chassis department, Enrico Gualtieri for the power unit, Laurent Mekies for racing and Gianmaria Fulgenzi, leader of supply chain activities.
As part of his leading role on the racing side, Mekies, Ferrari’s sporting director, is set to act as deputy team principal when Binotto does not attend race weekends.