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F1 | Toto Wolff surprised Binotto lasted as long as he did at Ferrari

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff commented on the resignation of Ferrari colleague Binotto, saying him leaving was unavoidable

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F1 | Toto Wolff surprised Binotto lasted as long as he did at Ferrari
Fuente imagen: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team

The biggest post-season news thus far has been the resignation of Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Failing yet again to take up a title fight, this time with Red Bull, Ferrari hopes that a new principal might be the push the Maranello-based squad needs.

In the latest Beyond the Grid episode, Mercedes leader Toto Wolff reflects on Binotto’s tenure at Ferrari and their rivalry.

“I think Mattia and I had our moments, it’s no secret, over these many years, but in a way, we consolidated that in 2022. We were in a much, much better place. But it was always clear he was under tremendous pressure. Being a team principal at Ferrari, you better have a good contract for your exit. And now probably the unavoidable happened, but he held on to it longer than I thought.”

And despite leading the eight-time constructors world champions, he reckons that the pressure coming with the most important job at Ferrari is bigger than anywhere else.

“Absolutely, you’re representing Ferrari, you’re representing the whole country. And they write you up, they write you down, but with brutality. So, yeah, certainly team principal at Ferrari is probably, as an Italian even more, because as a foreigner you just don’t read the news, but as an Italian clearly you’re in the firing line.”

Still, Toto believes “it’s the most exciting job in Italy”, and was he given the chance back in 2012, he would have taken it himself.

“Well, everybody [who] says he wouldn’t have been interested in being team principal of Ferrari just simply doesn’t tell the truth. I had to pinch myself until today that Daimler gave me the opportunity of becoming managing partner and co-shareholder, something that I feel tremendously proud [of]. But equally, if Ferrari would have come around the corner [and] miraculously offered me such a position, it would have been the same.”

Many feel Binotto, a very skilled engineer, wasn’t enough of a manager to be team principal. Asked whether you need Formula 1 specific knowledge to lead a team, Wolff explained that it is indeed a very specialised working environment.

“I believe that we are specialists, and you need to understand motor racing, maybe more than just only Formula 1. But it’s such a niche where the sport, the regulations, the governing body, the commercial rights holder, the competitors, all of us are basically locked in in this paddock cage. You need to be politically astute. So, it’s a very niche, specialist environment, and the more you know about the sport the better it is, but you don’t want to be a one-trick pony either and you can be a good racing manager and not understand about anything that’s going on commercially or outside in the world.”

However, despite the skill set of the Swiss-born Italian, there would be no place for him at Mercedes or High Performance Powertrains due to their past kerfuffles.

“No, I think there was too much porcelain broken between us over the last few years that this would be possible. With the other teams I can’t say. But certainly Mattia understands Formula 1 inside out and maybe he finds a role in another team.”

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