Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto: We are here to try and win
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Former Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya has leapt to the defence of Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto amid the Italian team’s very public struggles in 2022. Ferrari have made a catalogue of errors to derail both their Constructors’ Championship bid and driver Charles Leclerc’s title surge this season with Red Bull star Max Verstappen holding a healthy lead.
Ferrari have built the fastest car on average for the new era of regulations in F1, but the first half of the season saw the team make a number of strategy mistakes and operational errors. Leclerc has retired from two races with engine failures while in the lead, and the Monegasque star even crashed out from the French Grand Prix while at the front.
At Circuit Paul Ricard, Carlos Sainz had recovered from a poor starting position to contend for a spot on the podium. With 10 laps remaining, the 27-year-old passed Red Bull’s Sergio Perez for third but Ferrari called him into pit while he was attempting the move.
Sainz eventually came in and dropped down the order, finishing fifth. He voiced his confusion and anger over the radio, and Ferrari followed it up at the Hungarian Grand Prix when they called Leclerc in for hard tyres despite every other team avoiding the compound due to the conditions.
Binotto has received a tsunami of criticism for Ferrari’s blunders during the 2022 campaign. However, Montoya is adamant the under-fire boss is not to blame.
“Mattia is not the guy with the strategy, everybody blames him, but he’s not the one,” Montoya told Las Vegas Insider. “I don’t think he would be the one saying, oh let’s put the hard tyre on. That is why you have strategists, and that is why you pay top people to make those decisions.
“In Red Bull, it is not Adrian Newey, or Christian Horner making the decisions. It is the strategists that are making the decisions.”
Critics could suggest the team’s performance is on Binotto given he is in charge of the senior management staff. Sainz and Leclerc have been victims of some questionable pit wall decision, with the Italian team often turning winning situations into defeat.
Ultimately, Montoya argues Binotto – who has been the team principal at Ferrari since 2019 – is not to blame. He added: “It’s not Mattia’s fault. It is whoever is in charge of strategy.
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“You know, that is the problem, in all these sports, you know, they look at Toto on the TV, they look at Christian Horner on the TV, and so on. They look at Mattia, but they are not the guys making the final decision of what tyre goes on the car. They run the team as a whole.
“It is like when you own, let’s call it a soda company, and you are not in charge of putting the cap on every bottle. And if a couple of caps come out wrong, you are going to get blamed for it, but it doesn’t mean you did it.”
However, the seven-time Grand Prix winner conceded: “Long-term I agree, it is his responsibility. During the [race] weekend it is not. But, the people that are there are his responsibility 100%, or whoever he assigned to be responsible for.”
Red Bull star and reigning world champion Verstappen holds an 80-point lead over Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship, while Ferrari trail the Milton Keynes-based team by 97 points in the Constructors’ Championship. The 22-race F1 2022 campaign continues with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on August 28 after the four-week summer break.
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