Mattia Binotto has been named as Ferrari’s new Team Principal, replacing Maurizio Arrivabene. What makes him the right man to lead the Scuderia into 2019?
Ferrari’s new team boss is, on paper, a very suitable candidate to be at the helm of the team for 2019. While the now departed Maurizio Arrivabene was a long time stalwart of the reds, having joined Ferrari in the late 1990s through his senior management role at Marlboro & Philip Morris, Binotto’s involvement with the team stretches back even further. In fact, his whole life seems to have been building towards this moment.
Despite this move from Ferrari appearing to be a bit of a bolt from the blue, it’s been coming for a while. Former Ferrari Chairman Sergio Marchionne is understood to have already planned to replace Arrivabene for Binotto for 2019 but, with Marchionne tragically passing away during the summer, it looked as though Arrivabene was to get another chance. However, Binotto had clearly been made aware of this plan and tensions between the sporting and technical bosses of the F1 team looked to have increased towards season end; perhaps caused as Binotto could see the fruits of his labours being squandered due to mis-steps from the team. With Mercedes & Renault apparently eager to get their hands on him should Ferrari drop him, it appears Binotto is more valuable than Arrivabene at this time – resulting in the trigger being pulled.
Swiss-born Italian Binotto is a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from the Federal Polytechnic of Lausanne in Switzerland. Immediately throwing his hat in the Ferrari ring, he obtained a Masters degree in Automotive Engineering through the “Dipartimento di Ingegneria Enzo Ferrari (Engineering Department of Enzo Ferrari)” at Modena University. Graduating in 1994, Binotto was snapped by the then team boss Jean Todt. Under ambitious new CEO Luca Di Montezemelo, Binotto cut his teeth by learning from John Barnard and, later, Rory Byrne, then Technical Directors at Ferrari. Binotto was initially a Test Engine Engineer before moving up to the race team in 1997.
Working primarily with Rubens Barrichello as a race engineer in the early 2000s, Binotto moved up to take the role of Chief Engineer in 2007 and oversaw the Driver’s & Constructor’s World Championships in 2007 and the team’s most recent Constructor’s win in 2008. He then switched to Head of Engine & KERS Operations in 2009 when Hybrid technology first started showing its face in F1.
His rise since then has been even more rapid. Appointed as Deputy Director of Engine & Electronics in late 2013, he was appointed as Chief Operating Office of Power Unit in 2014 and then helped rectify the issues encountered by Ferrari with the first Hybrid V6. The 2014 engine, under Luca Marmorini, was a disappointment, but the 2015 engine was a clear step forward. In mid-2016, Binotto was appointed as Chief Technical Officer of the team, and was responsible for the overall design of the largely successful 2017 & 2018 title challengers.
With Ferrari’s 2018 title defeat coming as a result of errors and bad decisions moreso than a lack of competitiveness, the board have decided to oust Arrivabene from his role. With the man responsible for the technical direction of the team now in overall control of the Gestione Sportiva, there will be an immense amount of pressure on him. Presumably, after a quarter of a century with the Scuderia and learning from some of the brightest talents ever seen in the sport, Binotto is both politically adept and culturally attuned enough to be able to shrug off the expectations now firmly on his shoulders.