The Italian media is claiming that technical boss Mattia Binotto is to replace Arrivabene, possibly as early as today.
While Vettel compromised his own title hopes with a series of unforced errors, Ferrari, having shown mid-season that it had the better of Mercedes, is then alleged to have gone the ‘wrong way’ in its development of the car, a move which handed the advantage back to its German rivals.
The man driving the claims of the team going the wrong way in its development was Arrivabene, which ultimately led to claims that Binotto was to leave Ferrari in a move that which would trigger an off-season game of musical chairs which could include James Allison heading to Renault. However, Arrivabene dismissed the talk as a deliberate attempt to destabilise the team.
Unlike Binotto, Arrivabene comes from a marketing background as opposed to technical, a long-time executive with Philip Morris, manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes. Indeed, it was through this role that he first became involved with Ferrari and represented the sport’s sponsors on the Formula One Commission from 2010.
In late 2014, Arrivabene was appointed team principal at Ferrari, replacing the hapless Marco Mattiacci, who only months earlier had replaced Stefano Domenicali.
Interestingly, it was Ferrari chairman, Sergio Marchionne, who appointed Arrivabene, and in the wake of end-of-season reports that his position was under threat, the Italian snapped “My position? Ask, Camilleri”, referring to the new Ferrari chairman following Marchionne’s passing in the summer.
Ferrari, never the most outgoing team in terms of the media, is remaining tight-lipped on the speculation, but it is clear that after last year’s failure(s) change is needed.
Binotto first entered F1 in 1995 with Ferrari, initially working with its test team. Promoted to the race team he subsequently engineered for Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello and ultimately Michael Schumacher.
In 2005 he was appointed Chief Engineer Race and Customer Engines, subsequently being appointed Head of Engine Assembly & Track Activities and then Chief Track Engineer in 2010.
In 2013 he joined Toro Rosso as Race Engine Manager, returning to Maranello just a year later as Engine and Electronics Vice Director. Head of the Power Unit department between 2015 and 2016, following James Allison’s departure for Mercedes, Binotto was appointed the Italian team’s Chief Technical Officer.