Mattia Binotto was not there to see it, but the Ferrari team principal hailed Sebastian Vettel’s podium finish at the Turkish Grand Prix as “great for him”.
Having revealed he plans to start cutting back on his appearances at race weekends to spend more time overseeing operations at the Ferrari factory in Maranello, Binotto missed being present to see Vettel finish third in Istanbul.
It was comfortably the best result of the season for the four-time former World Champion in his final campaign with the Scuderia, having been told before the season began that his services were no longer required for 2021 and beyond.
Instead, the 33-year-old German will be heading to Aston Martin to continue his career with the fillip of showing he still has what it takes to achieve strong results, after being overshadowed by his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc throughout this campaign.
After a strong start to the race in Turkey on a damp track low in grip following recent resurfacing, Vettel was able to keep eventual winner Lewis Hamilton behind him during the early stages and snatched third place at the end when Leclerc dropped to fourth after a failed overtaking attempt on runner-up Sergio Perez.
“I’m very pleased for Sebastian,” said Binotto, quoted by Motorsport.com. “I think a podium for him is very important. It has been a difficult season for him.
“I think he has started being, at least now at the end of the season, [more] comfortable with the car. He is delivering better.
“He had a very good start, very consistent, with good pace. He was managing the tyres, managing to keep the positions, and holding the positions. And overall, even on the last lap, he did well because he took the opportunity. And it’s great for him.
“He just finished third, very close to Perez. But great, I’m happy for him. Still three races, and hopefully we will do as well in the next one.”
In a race where the podium was locked out by a trio of drivers in their 30s, Vettel made the point that experience had been key as some of his younger rivals made errors in the unusual conditions.
“I think I’ve struggled obviously to squeeze the maximum from the car,” he said. “I hope in the next races we are closer.
“The races I think we’ve had so far have obviously been compromised because once you are in the back, you are sort of stuck.
“In the wet, everything is a bit different and you can…you can be lucky or unlucky, you can make a difference more than in the dry.”