Mattia Binotto insists recent rumours suggesting he is set to be replaced at Ferrari as early as January of next year are wide of the mark.
Reports emerged last week that Binotto, who has come under fire this year for a raft of bizarre strategy calls that have cost his team a host of points, is to be given his marching orders, with Maranello HQ supposedly pursuing Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur.
Ferrari released an official statement quashing the speculation, and now Binotto has weighed in, insisting the reports are baseless.
“Obviously Ferrari is the most loved team,” Binotto said. “Seb [Vettel] said once that everyone is a Ferrari fan, and if they are telling you it’s not the case as matter of fact they are.
“And when there is such a big passion around it there is always certainly the passion but always as well a lot of criticism and rumours.
“That has been true in the past. It’s the situation right now and it will be in the future so obviously when these speculations were out I had a chat with my chairman John Elkann, together we discuss openly what was the best way to move forward and we decided to release a statement.
“That was maybe the best way to close any speculations and clearly those are speculations, totally, with no foundations.
“What’s the most important [is to] make sure to stay focused on the race weekend and the team not to be distracted because certainly the rumours are always there.”
Binotto: We reached our 2022 objective
Despite leaving a load of points on the table in a car that was arguably the class of the field during the first half of the season, Binotto is happy with what Ferrari has achieved in 2022.
At the British, French and Hungarian GPs, among others, the team faced widespread criticism for strategy blunders that cost Charles Leclerc in particular, before the combination of Max Verstappen and Red Bull asserted their dominance.
Just last week at Interlagos, Leclerc cut a frustrated figure when he was the only driver sent out on intermediate tyres for Q3 when the rain was starting to intensify. As a result, he finished tenth and sarcastically berated the pit wall over team radio.
After a disappointing FP3 session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Binotto admitted this season had been one of “ups and downs”, but on the whole, the “main objective” was met.
He added: “I think if I look back at the season, yes, we had few up and downs, we are not the best yet, the fastest car on track but I think we achieved our main objective which was to be back to be competitive in the new year of the 2022 cars.
“And if I look at the way we started the season, I think no one in that room, not only in that room, would ever have imagined Ferrari to be so fast at the start of the season, that is proving that the team has worked very well through difficult moments of 2020 and 2021.
“We remain united. I think it’s a team which is not only working well but has proved to be capable.
“Yes, there are still a lot of things that we need to progress. Weaknesses have been shown. But I’m pretty sure that as we did in the past, we will review, we will try to address them.
“The team back at the factory is fully focused on the 2023, try to improve. Furthermore, I think this season has been outstanding in terms of pole positions, so qualifying pace, not as good in terms of race pace.
“We know that we need somehow to improve furthermore the race pace because then strategy or whatever is around it, is a lot easier if you’ve got a strong car in the race itself.
“I’m relaxed. I’m more than that and I’m really focused on what we need to do and concentrated with the team.”