Ferrari has confirmed the departure of its Formula 1 team principal Maurizio Arrivabene with immediate effect after four years in the role, to be replaced by technical chief Mattia Binotto. The announcement brings to an end months of speculation about Arrivabene’s and Binotto’s respective futures at the team, amid doubts around Arrivabene’s management style, concern about the team’s persistent operational errors, as well as rumours of disagreements between the pair. Arrivabene took up Ferrari’s team principal role in late 2014 and oversaw a partial upturn in the squad’s fortunes. From winning no races in 2014 it took three victories in the hands of then-new driving recruit Sebastian Vettel in 2015, and while the team again took no victories in 2016 it topped the podium five times in 2017 and six times last year. All apart from one of these wins were taken by Vettel. Championship success however eluded the Italian team, and Vettel and Ferrari had to make do with runner-up slots in their respective championships in either of the last two seasons after faltering late in both campaigns.
Under Binotto’s stewardship Ferrari’s technical effort developed into possibly the most creative and bold in the pitlane, bearing fruit in effective cars in either of the past two seasons. For much of the 2018 campaign the Ferrari was in the eyes of many observers the strongest in the F1 field, and many believe the operational errors and Arrivabene’s management shortcomings cited undermined this advantage and cost Ferrari the drivers’ and constructors’ titles. The late Ferrari chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne was understood prior to his untimely death last July, after complications following shoulder surgery, to have resolved to replace Arrivabene with Binotto, even confirming as much to the board. New chairman John Elkann has now confirmed the same decision. Reports have suggested also that promoting the highly-rated Binotto is in part motivated by avoiding losing him to a rival squad.
Binotto joined Ferrari as a test engine engineer in 1995 before moving to a similar role in the race team two years later. Since he has moved up the squad’s technical ranks, including being perceived as key in the vast improvement of Ferrari’s hybrid engine after 2014, and he has been the team’s chief technical officer since 2016. Ferrari has confirmed that “all technical areas will continue to report directly to” Binotto, though currently it is unclear how Binotto’s day-to-day technical responsibilities will be redistributed. “After four years of untiring commitment and dedication, Maurizio Arrivabene is leaving the team,” a Ferrari statement confirmed on Monday evening. “The decision was taken together with the company’s top management after lengthy discussions related to Maurizio’s long term personal interests as well as those of the team itself. Ferrari would like to thank Maurizio for his valuable contribution to the team’s increasing competiveness over the past few years, and wish him the best for his future endeavours.” Arrivabene’s future is unclear though he has previously been linked with a senior role at Juventus football club.