Nervous Binotto ‘stopped watching’ Austrian Grand Prix

Sam Cooper
Mattia Binotto on the Ferrari pit wall. Imola April 2021.

Mattia Binotto on the Ferrari pit wall at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Imola April 2021.

Mattia Binotto said he could not even bear to watch the race as it looked like a car problem may once again cost Ferrari.

Moments after Carlos Sainz’s power unit had exploded, sending him out of the race, it looked as if the team’s misery may be further compounded as race leader Charles Leclerc complained that his throttle pedal was not working properly.

With Max Verstappen cutting the gap, there was a real worry within the garage that another issue with the car was going to cost Ferrari.

Such was the tension, team boss Binotto admitted he could not even bear to watch as the dramatic final laps unfolded and said he was not even looking at the timing screens.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” he replied when asked on Sky Sports F1 what was wrong with the throttle pedal. “I heard about it. We looked at the data but we need to wait for the car. Try to work what was it, was it mechanical? Myself? I stopped watching the race at that time.

“I was not [even looking at the timing screens]. [I was] looking around.”

Leclerc did hold on and crossed the line to win his first race since the third round in Australia. Binotto said it was important that the team recovered but was disappointed to miss out on what could have been an even better Sunday if Sainz had also finished.

“Certainly very happy because now it’s two wins in a row at Silverstone and now here in Austria,” the Swiss said. “It was important for us to recover, it was important for us to come back after let me say a few races where we’re not winning.

“We’ve got the potential and obviously happy for the win, a bit disappointed I would say for the failure on Carlos because it could have been even a better Sunday today.”

Following Verstappen’s comfortable win in the Sprint race on Saturday, there was expectation that Ferrari would struggle to keep up again in Sunday’s race but what transpired was the opposite. Binotto said he was not sure why there was such a difference between Saturday and Sunday but said their starting strategy to attack Verstappen paid off.

“Honestly difficult for me to judge what the others [Red Bull] are doing,” Binotto said. “We look at all our data yesterday during the Sprint. We try to have the right balance for today on the car to manage the tyres.

“The drivers did a fantastic job, both of them. They were doing very well. They put pressure on Max at the start of the race which I think was the difference compared to yesterday in the Sprint race.

“So we decided that the best was trying to keep pressure on him, force him somehow to go fast and somehow try to wear their own tyres and I think it worked well.

“We put pressure on Red Bull and that was what we were hoping for.”