Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said he mentally rehearsed three times how he was going to tell Sebastian Vettel that he would lose his seat.
The Scuderia made a controversial call to confirm that four-time World Champion Vettel would not drive for them in 2021 before the current season began, and so far in 2020 Vettel has looked a shell of his former self, languishing all the way down in P13 in the Drivers’ Championship.
Binotto has consistently said that the decision was a difficult one to make, and now he has revealed during an exclusive interview with Sky Italia that he had to rehearse the phone call three times in his head before making it.
“I was at home, and before I called him I repeated mentally three times beforehand what I should tell him and how,” he said, as quoted by Autosport.com.
“The choice about Seb was not easy, because we love him for what he has been, for the way he has behaved and for what he has given to the team over the years.
“But there comes a time when you have to have the clarity to make choices looking to the future.
“We are close to the start of a new technical cycle in 2022, and there is a team that is being built up in all areas.
“We have the duty and ambition to look to the medium and long term, and it is precisely on this rationale that the strength to make certain choices must be found.
“Did Seb get in the way? No, he did not hang up the phone.
“He is a very intelligent person, a beautiful person, and he has maintained his character during a season in which there has been no lack of difficulties. He was never negative. Instead, he was proactive and a very respectable person.”
Carlos Sainz will be the driver who replaces Vettel for 2021, and Binotto sees the Spaniard as someone who can be a team leader.
“Charles has the enthusiasm of the fans and also the team from the way he produces lap times in qualifying, with his overtaking and with the way he defends on track – Enzo Ferrari would have loved it,” he explained.
“Regarding the choice of Carlos, I personally see him as a leader.
“He is a great worker – he hooks up with engineers and asks for more and more.
“Although he is young, he already has many years of Formula 1 behind him and his path has always been one of learning to get the results.
“The drivers today are really the least of our problems.
“Charles is growing, and in difficulties he has never been critical – he wants to help contribute and grow the team.”