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Did Binotto take a swipe at Vettel?

NEWS STORY
30/03/2021

Ferrari team boss, Mattia Binotto's post-race comment about "finally" having two drivers he could rely on appears to be a clear dig at Sebastian Vettel.

Though both parties dismissed talk of bad feeling between them, ever since Ferrari announced it was to drop Sebastian Vettel, many have speculated that there was more to the matter.

In the eyes of most, Vettel has never fully recovered from the unforced error that cost him certain victory in the 2018 German Grand Prix, the German going on to make countless uncharacteristic errors over the course of the following seasons.

Clearly unsettled by the arrival of Charles Leclerc at Maranello in 2019, much as he had been by Daniel Ricciardo's arrival at Red Bull, rather than establishing himself as de facto team leader Vettel continued to make mistakes.

With the 2020 season delayed by the pandemic, before it eventually got underway, Ferrari announced that it would be parting company with the German, thereby kick-starting a chain of moves that saw Carlos Sainz join the Italian team and Daniel Ricciardo leave Renault for McLaren.

While Ferrari was compromised following the investigation into its power unit in late 2019, this didn't prevent Leclerc from giving a number of performances last season, both in qualifying and on race day, that totally belied the potential of the SF1000. Vettel, on the other hand, all but phoned in his performances, the word lacklustre best describing the German's final season at Ferrari.

Having failed to emulate his great hero, Michael Schumacher, in securing even one title for the Scuderia, Vettel left Maranello with just 14 wins to his name, having finished runner-up in the championship twice.

Unwanted by Ferrari, for a while it looked as though Vettel might be leaving the sport, until Lawrence Stroll saw the potential - both on track and for the brand – and recruited him to his new Aston Martin project.

Though, as appears to be the case with Lewis Hamilton, we might have to wait for the official autobiography, in general Vettel and Ferrari have been complimentary about one another, the German even refusing to compare the Mercedes power unit to its Maranello equivalent, insisting that it would be disloyal and impolite to do so.

However, speaking after Sunday's season opener, Mattia Binotto's comments suggest that all is not as it appears and that there is indeed a story waiting to be told.

"I'm really happy with the drivers," he told Sky Italia, "I'm happy to be able to count on both of them finally."

Note the use of the words both and finally.

"Carlos did a very good job with the pace," he continued, "and then the motivation is important, the wish to grow as a team and not only with the drivers.

"Today was just the first race," he added, "they will understand where to improve."

Referring specifically to Sainz, he said: "We chose Carlos because we knew that he is strong during the race, he proved that today. He's gaining confidence with the car, he's settling in with the team very well, he's working very well with Charles.

"Charles yesterday after the qualifying thanked Carlos for pushing him to do the best possible lap. So, I'm happy with both of them.

"Knowing that we can count on both of them is really important. The most important thing is to be motivated to keep growing. Our opponents today are not Carlos for Charles and Charles for Carlos, but the cars ahead of us. The day when we will be ahead of all the other teams, our drivers will be allowed to fight also with each other."

However, like many teams, for Ferrari, 2022 is already looming large.

"This season we will not develop the car a lot, because we're already focused on 2022," he admitted. "We will bring some upgrades, but it's important that they work and they lead the car in the right direction."

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1. Posted by Wokingchap, 30/03/2021 13:27

"Shot himself in the foot yet again!"

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