He has experienced the pinnacle of brilliant wins and even a 1-2 finish in the season opener in Bahrain, suffering other successes slipping through his fingers due to engine failure, driver error or poor strategy.

For some, the roller coaster of emotions during the campaign would perhaps be too much.

But for Binot, who spewed conspiracies FerrariThe recovery plan since he took over at the start of 2019 has kept him confident that behind the factory walls in Maranello, the whole team is moving in the same direction.

Yes, he has had his struggles and there are certainly things he could have done better in 2022, but Binotto remains confident that his long-term plan to give Ferrari the basis to regularly challenge for the world title remains on track.

However, one thing is clear: life as Ferrari team principal through the lows of the 2020/2021 season, to the highs and lows of this season, is not a job for the faint of heart.

Asked by Autosport in an exclusive interview if he has had any tough moments in the last 18 months, he smiles: “Every day! I think it’s been a tough journey from 2019, when I was appointed team director, to today.

“We went through a very difficult 2020 and then 2021. But even in 2022, because we’re fighting for the best, sometimes there are races where we don’t get the car’s potential. So it’s not easy.

“But I can say that I am happy in this role. I’m happy because I know I have a great team. The team is united. It’s great to see them working together.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, pit stop

Photo: Ferrari

Pitwall Drama

While Binotto regularly talks about the strong team around him, there are times when he feels the weight of the world rests squarely on his shoulders.

This is no more true than the TV cameras watching him in the pit lane during Ferrari’s most difficult moments: for example, when Charles Leclerc while leading in Baku and Spain suffered from engine failure.

Binotto admits that it’s emotionally difficult to deal with these moments, but it’s equally his duty to remain calm.

When asked what was on his mind and how difficult times are now when things are going wrong in such a public manner, he replied: “It’s very difficult for two reasons.

“First of all, speaking of the engine failure, I got over it [department] myself in the past. And seeing smoke is never a good thing. So it’s more of a depressed feeling.

“There is no doubt when you see us leading the race, as Charles led in Baku and even Carlos [Sainz] I would say that in Austria these are problems that you would never want to see.

“I’m keeping calm, but believe me, I’m depressed. It’s hard and you spend a few moments trying to react, then you really need to think about your next steps.

“So what is needed and what is required? And not only in technical terms, but more in team terms. So how can I help? What can I do to keep everyone calm and focused, protected even from outside attacks and comments?”

Mattia Binotto, Ferrari team principal

Mattia Binotto, Ferrari team principal

Photo: Ferrari

Binotta is not one to blame others when things go wrong, nor does he even rule his team with an iron fist so that staff fear for their jobs.

Instead, he believes that employees should be empowered to make decisions that are in the best interests of the team; which means he must trust them completely.

“I think I empower the people around me,” he said when asked about his management style. “I think I’m not brutal, but I’m strict. And those around me know that I can be very strict.

“But I think more than that, I always try to give them opportunities and give them everything they need to do their job. And I trust the people around me.

“I’m not one to go into detail about every single element. I focus more on myself, making sure, as I said before, that they’ve got everything they need to do the job.

“I know how important team spirit is, I know how important mental approach and culture are. We’re working hard on this within the team, trying to change our culture from what we’ve been and what we think is the right attitude and behavior.

“I see that the team is somehow very close-knit, and I think you can achieve that through transparency. Even I believe that it is also necessary to be intelligent, sometimes transparent and real.

Carlos Sainz's burnt out Ferrari F1-75 after a fire forced his retirement

Carlos Sainz’s burnt out Ferrari F1-75 after a fire forced his retirement

Photo: Andy Hone / Images of motor sports

Long road to recovery

From the outside, based on the ebb and flow of Ferrari’s results in recent seasons, this season’s turnaround from the problems the team found themselves in in 2020 has been remarkable – and has shown some to believe that it was just lucky at the start of the new rule circuit.

However, Binota believes that appearances were deceiving; and that Ferrari’s recent campaigns have not shown a true picture of the team’s progress.

He says the mistakes the team made with the 2020 car and powertrain were compounded by the development suspension imposed by the coronavirus pandemic; so he paid a much greater price for his stumbling.

“There are no silver bullets in F1,” he said. “It took not one year or two years [to recover]. It was more than that.

“I think what we got today started a long time ago, maybe back in 2016 or 2017. This is constant building up of the team, self-improvement.

“It’s about organization, it’s about skills, it’s about experience, it’s about methodology and tools, it’s about assets, and when I talk about assets that could be a simulator, wind tunnel improvements, whatever you have.”

Reflecting on the troubled 2020 campaign, Binotto said, “It was more than a step back, it was three steps back. why? I think in 2020 we just messed up our project.

“And then everything is frozen at the beginning of the season. It was like when Mercedes would be frozen at the first race of the season: what would happen to them?

“I do not believe that this is a team that is not capable of development. He is capable of making a good car, capable of fighting for the best, but if you freeze your project in the first race and somehow make some mistakes, as Mercedes did this season, then you will be there for the whole season.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75

Photo: Ferrari

“But also 2020 was a product of what we tried to implement in 2019, when we completely changed the organization and the team.

“In 2020 and 2021, we only had a limited opportunity to develop a car that was a complex car. So I think 2020 or 2021 doesn’t reflect the overall potential of the team at that time.”

This long-term perspective is why Binotto believes Ferrari is on a steady path to the front of the grid, rather than rushing there over a period of time.

“I think the team, like I said, starting in 2017, is just looking to progress every year,” he said.

“Today I think we got a truer feedback about his power. But without a doubt we have improved, without a doubt we have improved every season and without a doubt I think that 2020 has been a good year for us to somehow put in front of us an even greater need to improve: analyzing all the shortcomings of that time, the project of the organization, try to create something that will be better for the future.

“And from 2020, of course, we made some changes to the organization with clearer roles and clearer responsibilities. We had a new simulator, so I think it was a good point in the journey for us to say, “okay, let’s define the point, let’s identify the weak points and try to eliminate them all.” And I think it’s done.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 1st position, Mattia Binotto, Ferrari Team Principal, celebrate at Parc Ferme

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 1st position, Mattia Binotto, Ferrari Team Principal, celebrate at Parc Ferme

Photo: Zak Mauger / Images of motor sports

No change in approach now

Despite Ferrari’s strong start to 2022, its run of form ahead of the summer break has allowed rival Red Bull to surge ahead.

But despite engine reliability struggles and missed opportunities through strategy, Binotto sees the rest of the campaign as part of what’s been going on since 2017.

That’s why he sees no need to radically shake things up before F1 is back in action at the Belgian Grand Prix.

“I don’t think we need to do anything else,” he said. “I think it’s just continuing our journey of constantly improving ourselves step by step, focusing on each individual race.

“I think we have the potential to win races at the moment. It’s just a matter of making sure that when we get to the checkered flag, we’re in first place. But that doesn’t mean we have to change our approach.

“Like we said, there are no silver bullets, so I don’t think we need to change ourselves. We have proven that we can do a good job.

“It’s just a matter of getting there step by step, getting used to it, and whatever the result is in 2022, we’re trying to be ready for 2023.”

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari F1-75

Photo: Ferrari


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