Motor racing-Ferrari shake things up again with Binotto departure

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Belgian Grand Prix - Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium - August 28, 2022 Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto before the race Pool via REUTERS/Geert Vanden Wijngaert/

(Reuters) - Mattia Binotto's exit from Ferrari at the end of December leaves Formula One's oldest and most successful team seeking a fifth boss in under a decade to lead the fight against rivals benefiting from years of stability.

The job of Ferrari team principal ranks alongside coaching the national soccer team as the hottest of hot seats in Italian sport.

The expectations and pressure are huge, with patience in short supply and the full glare of the spotlight picking out every mistake.

Since Stefano Domenicali -- now in charge of Formula One -- resigned in 2014, Ferrari have gone through principals faster than any top team while track success has remained elusive.

Toto Wolff, who co-owns the Mercedes team, has been in charge there since 2013 and the stability has brought unprecedented success.

Christian Horner has been Red Bull boss since 2005, taking the team to four successive driver and constructor title doubles from 2010-13 and again this season to end a run of eight consecutive constructors' titles for Mercedes.

Ferrari, who enjoyed a golden era with Michael Schumacher during a period of stability under the leadership of Frenchman Jean Todt from 1993-2007, have not won a championship since 2008.

Marco Mattiacci's tenure at Maranello was short-lived after he was appointed in 2014 as successor to Domenicali, with Maurizio Arrivabene taking over in 2015 and lasting until the end of 2018 when Binotto was promoted.

His departure, announced on Tuesday, means more change after a season in which Ferrari re-emerged as race winners after a two-year drought but, despite having the fastest car in March, failed to maintain a title challenge.

Whoever gets the job will have plenty to get on top of, including the internal politics that have long been part of life at Maranello.

The driver pairing of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will stay the same but the new boss will need to quickly get up to speed on past strengths and weaknesses while managing budget cap restrictions.

Binotto, a former head of the engine department and the technical side, was an insider with 28 years at Ferrari and knew everyone, enjoying considerable loyalty as he nurtured talent and built on the team's strengths.

Todt was given time to build the greatest of teams, laying the groundwork for future success and moving away from a culture of job preservation and fear to take risks, but Binotto's replacement may not have that luxury.

Binotto was backed by Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne, who died in 2018, and promoted by Louis Camilleri, who retired in 2020. In their absence, he has had less support.

Company president John Elkann served notice in September when he set a target of winning both titles again by 2026.

"There is no doubt that the work in Maranello, in the garage, on the pit wall and at the wheel needs to improve," he added then.

"We must continue to make progress and that goes for the mechanics, the engineers, the drivers and obviously, the entire management team, including the team principal."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)

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