Former Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto has not sought to claim credit for any success their 2023 car may have this season, even though much of the design process will have taken place under his leadership.
Binotto handed in his resignation at the end of 2022 after a season in which the Scuderia could, and in all likelihood should, have pushed Red Bull and Max Verstappen much harder in the fight for the World Championship.
But despite much of the SF-23, which was unveiled at Fiorano on Tuesday in front of a packed grandstand full of fans, being put together during Binotto’s time at the team, when asked about his influence on the car ahead of the new season, the now-former team principal insisted the focus should be on the collective, instead of one person.
“In Formula 1 you don’t talk about an individual, you talk about a complete group,” Binotto said to Corriere dello Sport.
“This is a car that was designed last year, in which I was with them, but it is not my car, it is Ferrari’s car.”
Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz took race victories in 2022, and Leclerc took more pole positions than any other driver, but Verstappen’s relentlessness on a Sunday saw him take 15 victories last season, compared to only four for both Ferrari drivers combined.
Binotto spoke of the importance of the machinery underneath the drivers, but also explained that the driver is the person which can take the car up to its full potential.
“To win you always need the best car, [but] the driver makes the difference for the last two tenths on the track,” he said.
“It makes the difference for talent, driving ability and mentality. Because a driver must have that charisma that pushes the whole team to keep improving.
“After all, he is a protagonist in the team, he is one of the most important people, because he talks to journalists, to the presidency, to all his mechanics, to the team.
“So I think that a driver makes a difference on the track, but also in the ability to cultivate and improve the mentality of the team.”
Charles Leclerc quashes rumours of Ferrari divorce amidst Mercedes links
FIA breaks silence on political statement clampdown following driver backlash
Toto Wolff warns ‘I’m going to come after you’ on latest Drive to Survive trailer
Ferrari will be under the microscope in 2023
There can be no getting away from the fact that Ferrari now head into their 15th year without taking a Drivers’ or Constructors’ title in 2023, and the pressure of their fans – and Italy as a nation – will be just as strong as ever, if not more so.
Vasseur will likely be afforded time to settle into his new surroundings as he takes on arguably the highest-pressured job in all of Formula 1, but the tifosi feel starved of success, and last season’s struggles during races won’t have helped.
Should the SF-23 be capable of fighting for race victories again, as was the case last year on a regular basis, with the team having already identified where they went wrong last time around, then the pressure will be on the Ferrari pit wall and both drivers to try and take an extra step forward this time around.