Ferrari team chief Mattia Binotto said on Saturday that he felt relaxed about his future despite reports in Italian news media that he is set to be replaced.
The easy-going Italian told reporters at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that the speculation was unfounded, but admitted he was not in control of his fate. “Obviously when this speculation came out, I had a chat with my chairman, John Elkann,” said Binotto.
“We discussed openly what was the best way to move forward. We decided to release a statement was maybe the best way to close any speculation. Clearly there is speculation, but totally with no foundation.”
He was speaking before qualifying for Sunday’s race in which Charles Leclerc was third and Carlos Sainz fourth, to secure the second row of the grid behind the title-winning Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. “It’s about Ferrari,” he said. “And more importantly, we must not be distracted. Obviously, it’s not down to me to decide, but I’m pretty relaxed.
‘Open, frank, constructive discussions’
“The reason why I’m relaxed is that I’m always having open, frank and constructive discussions with my bosses, with my chairman, not only for the short-term but the medium and the long-term. More than that, I think if I look back on the season, yes we had a few up and downs - and today we have not the fastest car on-track - but I think we achieved our main objective which was to be back and to be competitive and that we know the 2022 cars.”
He said the team had progressed since he took control in 2019 and stressed that the ‘scuderia’ was fully focussed for the future. “The team back at the factory is fully focused on the 2023 car and trying to improve,” he said.
“Furthermore, I think this season has been outstanding in terms of pole positions and qualifying pace. Not as good in terms of race pace so we need to somehow improve furthermore the race pace, because then strategy or whatever is around it will be easier if you have a strong car in the race itself. So yes, I’m relaxed, I’m more than that. I’m really focused on what we need to do and concentrate with the team.”
A report in Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport claimed that Ferrari were considering recruiting Alfa Romeo team chief Fred Basseur to replace Binotto, a long-serving Ferrari loyalist.
After a desultory season in 2020 and a lacklustre year of recovery in 2021, Ferrari began this season with two wins in the opening three races, but was then swept aside by the runaway success of Red Bull as Max Verstappen powered to his second world title.
The team claimed further victories in July, but has not won in 10 races since the Austrian Grand Prix.