As a former Ferrari team principal himself, Stefano Domenicali has wished Mattia Binotto well for his future but that’s about all the F1 chief can say.
Ferrari announced on Tuesday morning Binotto would be leaving the team at the end of the year, the Scuderia having “accepted the resignation of Mattia Binotto who will leave his role as Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal.”
The announcement brings to an end a 28-year career with Ferrari, Binotto starting out in Ferrari’s engine department before becoming its head, then chief technical officer and finally team principal.
Under his leadership Ferrari won seven of 82 grands prix and twice finished runner-up in the Constructors’ Championship. However, they also entered a secret agreement with the FIA over their suspect 2019 power unit, went two years without a single race win, and this year recorded more strategy blunders and reliability failures than race wins.
Domenicali, Ferrari’s team boss from 2008 to 2014, has not only wished Binotto well but hopes his replacement can continue the work Binotto had begun to turn Ferrari into a “competitive team”.
“Because of the position I have, I can’t really say anything,” he told Marca. “Nothing more than to wish Mattia Binotto luck in his future.
“And Ferrari to find the person who can continue on the path that began this year, which was reaffirmed by finishing in second place in the World Championship.
“At this moment, for F1 it is important, also for Carlos [Sainz], who has had a really good and important season, to have a competitive team. Obviously, that is what we wish them.”
Ferrari are now in the hunt for their fifth team boss since their last Drivers’ Championship title. That was secured back in 2007 by Kimi Raikkonen, the final year of Jean Todt’s tenure as team boss.
He stepped down, replaced by Domenicali, who in turn was replaced by Marco Mattiacci. He lasted one season before Maurizio Arrivabene had the job for four years, Binotto taking over from him in 2019.
Marko: New boss will come from within Ferrari’s ranks
Having announced Binotto’s exit, Ferrari stated in their press release that the ‘process is underway to identify Scuderia Ferrari’s new Team Principal and is expected to be finalised in the new year’.
It has been widely suggested that Alfa Romeo team boss Fred Vasseur is the number one target, reports claiming Andreas Seidl, Gerhard Berger, Franz Tost and Christian Horner have all already said no.
Horner’s colleague at Red Bull, Helmut Marko, reckons Ferrari will promote from within.
He told SPORT1: “I can well imagine that Ferrari would give the job to its own man. That’s what BMW did when they promoted Mario Theissen, a top engineer from their own ranks, to team boss when they took over Sauber in 2006.”
If that is the case sporting director Laurent Mekies could be the front-runner. The 45-year-old Frenchman has not only represented Binotto in some of this year’s grands prix but he also has a good relationship with Charles Leclerc.
Jonathan Giacobazzi is another name being thrown around, he’s the team’s executive race manager. He not only has a history with the Ferrari family, his father was a close friend of Enzo Ferrari’s, but Sport1 says he already ‘acts as a kind of liaison between the racing team and the Ferrari government.
‘He is therefore a close confidant of both Fiat and Ferrari patriarch John Elkann and Ferrari son Pierro Lardi-Ferrari.’