‘Nice guy’ Mattia Binotto was responsible for Ferrari shambles

Ex-Formula 1 driver Giedo van der Garde worked with Frederic Vasseur during his junior days at ART Grand Prix.

2023 will represent a fresh start for Ferrari once again, with former Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur taking on the poisoned chalice from Mattia Binotto, who resigned as team boss following the conclusion of the season.

Binotto, to his credit, has worked wonders with the Maranello-based side during his four-year stint as team principal, with the Italian having returned the famous side to the front of the field; albeit, with some difficulties along the way.

Strategic errors have been Ferrari’s downfall for a number of years; however, these were really put in the spotlight given that Charles Leclerc was losing victories as a result of the team’s incompetence.

Had the Scuderia managed their strategies correctly, then the world would’ve potentially seen a season-long fight between Leclerc and double World Champion Max Verstappen.

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Alas, it wasn’t to be, with Red Bull and Verstappen escaping into the distance as a result of Ferrari’s errors.

Binotto’s resignation may well have something to do with the criticism he’s received for the team’s errors; however, a lack of trust from chairman John Elkann appears to be the defining reason for his departure.

Speculation regarding Binotto’s future was circulating at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, with Vasseur’s name having already been mentioned as the Italian’s likely replacement.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Giedo van der Garde believes Binotto was told to either resign the “nice way” or be fired publicly, with many feeling as if the long-time Ferrari colleague was treated wrongly by the Italians hierarchy.

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“I think they gave him a choice: either we say we’ve thrown you out, or we do it in a nice way and you say you’ve resigned yourself,” Van der Garde told Motorsport.com.

“And so it ended up being the second one.

“But it was clear that he had to leave. He is a very nice guy and has built a very good car, but Ferrari did throw away some wins this year. And whichever way you look at it, he was responsible for that as team boss.”

With Ferrari signing a new team principal every few years, many have likened the role to a ‘poisoned chalice’, one that Vasseur will attempt to tame in January.

The Frenchman is an experienced leader who has enjoyed success wherever he’s gone, with Van der Garde hailing him as someone who “doesn’t like bullsh*t”.

This mentality might suit Ferrari, especially if he’ll say it exactly as it is, with his personality suggesting that any mistakes will be dealt with swiftly in 2023.

According to Van der Garde, Vasseur is a “true leader” and is someone who’ll “take Ferrari to new heights”; however, he’s warned that to be successful at Ferrari the Frenchman will need to “look at the complete picture”.

“Vasseur put the right people in the right place there,” said Van der Garde.

“He is a true leader and will be able to take Ferrari to new heights.

“He’s someone who can bang his fist on the table and doesn’t like bullsh*t. He can be tough. That is why I really think he is the right man for Ferrari.

“He always tells it like it is. He does not play political games, but is straightforward.

“If someone is not functioning well, he can be very rigorous and say: either you will do better, or you will be replaced by someone else. He always goes for the best possible performance. And as a Ferrari team boss you have to project that.

“Binotto is very professional and has done some really good things at Ferrari in recent years, but it’s also about winning mentality, and that is much more present with Vasseur.

“A culture change must take place at Ferrari in that respect. The team needs to believe in itself again, they have two good drivers, a good car and now also a good team boss. They should now be able to score many more victories.

“Whether they can beat Max Verstappen is another thing, but they should have won more last year and fought for the championship much longer. With Vasseur at the helm, things would have gone much better.

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“He has to look at the whole team. They weren’t strong strategically last year, of course. Although they have a good guy for that [Iñaki Rueda], they really fell short in that area, that’s something Vasseur needs to look at.

“But also how the communication goes between the engineers and the drivers, how the team is structured and what the culture is like within the team.

“Vasseur will therefore have to look at the complete picture, address the points that did not go well last season and, just like with Alfa, put the right people in the right place. That will take some time, but give him that time.”