Christian Horner reacts to Mattia Binotto’s imminent Ferrari departure

Michelle Foster
Christian Horner and Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto speaking. Monaco, May 2022.

Red Bull's Christian Horner speaks to Ferrari's Mattia Binotto during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend. Monaco, May 2022.

As Mattia Binotto packs up his desk in Maranello, rival team boss Christian Horner says in “all fairness” the Italian did a good job this season.

Ferrari, he added, just had their “moments operationally”.

Ferrari began the 2022 season in flying form, Charles Leclerc winning two of the first three grands prix to race out to a 34-point lead in the standings.

But three races later he was behind, Max Verstappen having gone on a charge to take a six-point advantage at the Spanish Grand Prix, just one of a handful of races where he benefitted from Ferrari’s poor reliability, strategy mistakes or a driver error.

With 15 wins in total, Verstappen romped to a second World title while Ferrari went from two in three races to four the entire 22-race season with Leclerc and the Scuderia having to settle for runner-up.

It ultimately cost Binotto his job, the 53-year-old handing in his resignation after the season with the Italian calling time on a career with Ferrari that spanned almost three decades.

Horner says he feels for his former rival.

“I think in all fairness to Mattia, he did a very good job in producing a very competitive car and engine for Ferrari, certainly this year,” The Race quotes the Red Bull team boss as having said at the FIA prize gala.

“Obviously they’ve had their moments operationally.

“He committed a long period of his career and life to Ferrari and I’m sure it must be very difficult for him to leave that team after all of that time.

“Of course, there’s huge pressure in that team because it’s a national team, effectively, as well as an OEM team.

“Obviously [there’s] a lot of pressure on that job.”

A poisoned chalice overflowing with pressure

All team bosses have pressure, but at Ferrari it’s not just a company, it’s a country.

Since Horner stepped up as Red Bull team boss in 2005, he’s sat opposite five different team bosses dressed in red – Jean Todt, Stefano Domenicali, Marco Mattiacci, Maurizio Arrivabene and Binotto.

Fred Vasseur, it is being reported, will be number six.

The Frenchman is expected to be named as the next Ferrari team boss, taking on the poisoned chalice as he swaps Alfa Romeo-Sauber for Ferrari. The only up side for Vasseur is, having dealt with Ferrari for several years, he knows what he’s in for.

And that, quite simply, is to have every victory talked up as a chance of championship success, every defeat analysed in depth and every mistake a headline on the national – if not international – news.

Pundits will have something to say, past Ferrari drivers too, and let’s not forget the voices of the Tifosi on social media.

And he can expect all that from day one, not of the season but pre-season testing – if not the day Ferrari take the covers off their 2023 car.

It’s a job that comes with pressure, not just from inside but the outside. Horner calls it “a national team”. Some would argue it’s the international one.

Read more: Mattia Binotto called Charles Leclerc personally to inform him of resignation