Mattia Binotto has put down the speculations regarding Jean Todt re-joining Ferrari as he adds on Antonio Giovinazzi and Mick Schumacher being F1 reserves.
With Todt now the former President of the FIA, there had been speculation about the Frenchman rejoining the Ferrari in a consultancy capacity or another role that might be in the pipeline perhaps. The reports started to circulate around Abu Dhabi.
But Ferrari team principal Binotto set the record straight and put them down with a straight ‘no’ when asked if there has been any discussions about it as well. “I heard and I read about some speculations in that respect,” he said. “What I can say is that so far they are only speculations.
“Personally, I worked with Jean Todt, he has been my boss. I think I learned a lot from him. It has been an honour to work with him and I would say that, as well, whatever would be the future, it will still be an honour for me to work together with him because I still believe that, as myself and as a team, there’s still much to learn,” summed up Binotto.
There is no doubt that Ferrari are on the way back after a solid third in the constructors’ title race and good solid performances from both drivers. What they need now is a victory. However, should Todt rejoin the Maranello concern, a man of his knowledge and experience would 100% be a plus for Ferrari.
On the part of Todt, during the FIA Prize Gala, he joked about offering to be Sebastien Ogier’s co-driver in rallying after the retirement of Julien Ingrassia. But apart from that, the Frenchman hasn’t given any indication of what he may do next.
Aside from this, the name of Giovinazzi, departing from F1 (for now) and going to the Formula E series reared its head again quite interestingly. The Italian is of course a Ferrari contracted driver and has fingers in many pies for 2022 with Formula E as per above plus talk of him participating in the WEC in Hypercar.
During Abu Dhabi, Binotto noted about discussions with Giovinazzi and just before Christmas, he has confirmed that the Italian will remain as a reserve driver for Ferrari in 2022 albeit he will share it with Mick Schumacher, who will drive for Haas.
Giovinazzi will take up the role for the races which doesn’t clashes with Formula E and where it does, Schumacher will be the back-up – the division is 12 races as reserve for the former and 11 for the latter. Haas already has signed Pietro Fittipaldi to cover their team, but they will have the Italian too who could fill in at Alfa Romeo as well.
Aside the above duo, Ferrari confirmed Robert Shwartzman in the test driver role taking over from Callum Ilott, who will be racing full-time in IndyCar. The Russian has ended his F2 campaign as we await to know about his racing plans. He will work on the simulator alongside Antonio Fuoco and Davide Rigon.
“He’s a Ferrari driver, we should not forget that. He has been part of our Ferrari Driver Academy,” said Binotto. “The reason we have the Ferrari Driver Academy is to identify the next Ferrari driver for the future. Being part of it, if you are doing well, no doubt you may have opportunities. He’s had already one season in F1, which is important.
“Mick through the season did well, he improved himself not only in terms of consistency, but as well in terms of speed. If you look at the last races, he was a lot closer to the cars ahead, and Haas didn’t develop the car at all. The fact he was closer proved he had a good improvement on the speed itself.
“He will be driving 2022 cars next year, they will be a lot different to the current one in terms of driving style. It will be important to have one driver who knows those cars being reserve. I can count still on Antonio because he’s a good driver, he has proved to be a good driver. Antonio will have a full programme of simulator, in terms of bringing him up to speed in terms of 2022 driving style.
“With Antonio, no doubt there can be some more opportunities for him to find a seat in 2023. There are 11 seats I think which will be free in 2023. I’m not saying all of them will be free, but if I look at contracts of drivers, 11 are finishing by the end of 2022, including Carlos – so that’s the situation.
“This is why I think it’s important for him to still be part of our F1 programme as reserve, still doing activities in the simulator and keeping him up to speed with 2022 cars as I said,” summed up Binotto. While he noted about a seat being empty at Ferrari, Sainz is close to sign a new deal which could see him continue on until 2024 season.
The story was written by Neil Farell
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