Mattia Binotto says he is not going to take things for granted in 2020 as he looks back on his first year as Ferrari team principal.
The 2019 F1 season saw a moderately successful title challenge from Ferrari, who – while lagged behind at first – but were the quickest team in the latter half of the year, particularly in straight-line pace, as they dominated the power-reliant circuits.
And looking ahead to 2020, Ferrari team principal Binotto was hesitant to make any predictions due to the ever-evolving grid around his outfit. However, the Italian knows Ferrari have all the tools to win but he won’t take things for granted.
“I believe that the level of competition has never been so high,” said Binotto. “We have all the requisites needed to do well but nothing is taken for granted because our adversaries are, like us, also strengthening themselves in order to improve.
“To our advantage there’s the support of our exceptional tifosi and the power of that legend that we want at all costs to continue to nourish.” More personally, Binotto – who had his first season as team principal in 2019 – reflected on the surprises he saw.
Being the technical director for so long, Binotto was not so fluent with the political side, which he did not anticipate before doing the job. He was referring to all the pressure put in from Mercedes and or Red Bull Racing regarding their engine power.
“The fact that in this F1 the challenge is not just technical and sporting but also political,” said Binotto. “We can’t let our guard down on that front, knowing that it’s not enough to have a competitive car and great drivers.
“I hadn’t expected that that aspect would mean so much effort.” Staying on that, Binotto then touched upon the other aspects of his job, which he found to be new, with regards to communications, marketing, and other activities, where earning came in picture too.
“Ninety percent of the team is based on technicians and my new role covers also the other ten per cent: communications, marketing, sponsorship, legal,” reflected Binotto. “Just as there have been other areas added, in which perhaps I’m less qualified.
“You could say that, whereas before, as Technical Director, I was used to just spending, now as Team Principal I have to think about making savings or even creating earnings. After the winter testing, which had gone really well, we had a lot of expectations.
“But instead we ended up having a cold shower. Apart from that, it was for me my first race ‘on the pit wall’ after 25 years of competition. When I was still a motoring engineer I used to say to myself ‘sooner or later you’ll stop attending races.
“And the one thing that you’ll later think that you have missed out on will be not having done a race ‘al muretto’ – on the pit wall. Instead I made my debut there, in a position from which you have a completely different perspective compared to the box.
“Also, my role is also to make sure that everything is functioning correctly and so keeping an eye on the box is important. But it’s true, I am a man of the box and I only need a quick look over at the mechanics to be able to tell what’s happening.
“It’s more useful for me to keep an eye on that rather than on the screens,” he added, when answering about his idea of looking at his team more than the screens. Adding more on keeping the team together and being the first one to have 1000 HP, Binotto stated:
“Something that comes partly from my engineering studies and from having grown up in Switzerland: I’m convinced that it’s important to have rigorous procedures. It’s what helps me to manage a structure as large as ours.
“On the one hand it’s true that you have to look after relations with individuals. The human, emotional side is fundamental, but on the other hand it is a complex machine that has to work perfectly. Above all in F1 everything must function efficaciously and efficiently.
“To be clear, the problem is not how to develop something with 1,000 horsepower, but to do so before the others do, so it’s precisely having efficient processes that enables you to be quicker at developing things.”
To sum it up, Binotto also looked at Ferrari’s 2019 troubles, where Australian, Bahrain GP and Canadian GP loses hurt me but the races after summer break brought the much needed smile. He hailed the mature handling of happenings in Brazil GP by both Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, in a three-way call.
Here’s Sebastian Vettel on little changes in his driving
Here’s Mattia Binotto on ‘young team’ Ferrari
Here’s Charles Leclerc on his 2019 F1 season went
The story was co-written by Duncan Leahy