Arrivabene replaced by Binotto in Ferrari reshuffle
Ferrari has confirmed that the team has replaced team principal Maurizio Arrivabene with technical director Mattia Binotto. The announcement comes following months of denials that the team was considering a shake-up, after its failure to seal last years world title.
In a statement, Ferrari said, “the decision was taken together with the company’s top management after lengthy discussions related to Maurizio’s long-term personal interests as well as those of the team itself.”
The news comes after a 2018 season, where management errors were believed to be a factor in the team losing the title.
Before the Christmas break, Arrivabene hit out at what he called ‘fake news’ over reports that Binotto was so frustrated with the situation that he could leave the outfit. Saying “The rumours about Mattia are fake news, put around to create instability in the team,” he said.
“It is an attempt to try to create problems where there are no problems, and I do not want to comment on false rumours any more. During this season there have been many attempts at destabilisation, sometimes with stories about the drivers, others about the technicians.”
There have been long rumours about tensions between Binotto and Arrivabene over the direction and approach of the team as it bid to end its F1 title drought.
But despite the months of denials, Ferrari said in a statement, “Ferrari would like to thank Maurizio for his valuable contribution to the team’s increasing competitiveness over the past few years, and wish him the best for his future endeavours.”
Binotto has been technical chief since 2016 when he stepped up to the role following the team’s split with James Allison. He first joined Ferrari in 1995, originally as a test engine engineer and then performed a similar role for the race team from 1997 to 2003.
He was then appointed as race engine engineer, and chief engineer, he became head of engine and KERS in 2009 – before stepping up to chief operating officer of the power unit at the end of 2014.
It is unclear who will replace Binotto as head of the team’s technical department, but for the moment the Italian will remain as the teams’ technical director.
Vettel confident of sufficient reserve drivers
Sebastian Vettel is confident that Ferrari will find sufficient replacements for Daniil Kvyat and Antonio Giovinazzi following their departures from. Kvyat and Giovinazzi shared most of the simulator work for Ferrari last season, but both have secured race seats for 2019.
The two drivers have been credited by the four times champion for providing him with consistent set-up improvements throughout race weekends last season. However, Kvyat and Giovinazzi have both secured race seats for 2019, with Toro Rosso and Sauber.
Ferrari missed out on Robert Kubica having offered him a reserve and simulator role for 2019, only to see the Polish driver opt for the Williams race seat, leaving the Italian squad short on options.
Speaking to Crash.net, Vettel said “Personally, I’m not a fan of the simulator because it’s just not fun. But you get the point, it is very important, it is an important tool. Based on our findings, we change the car, it is better and we were happier.”
“We’re extremely thankful for the guys, taking in the time because it’s not the nicest job on Friday night, especially when you’re young, but it’s important, it all adds up.”
Ferrari could opt for former Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley and Sergey Sirotkin, who aren’t currently committed to any team for 2019. Meanwhile, Stoffel Vandoorne has already been announced as a Mercedes simulator driver, as he races for the Mercedes affiliate Venturi Formula E team.
Lauda readmitted to hospital
Mercedes non-executive director and three times champion Niki Lauda has been re-admitted to intensive care, five months after undergoing a double lung transplant.
The Austrian is reportedly suffering from flu and has been transferred to a hospital in Vienna where he was previously treated in the summer. According to Oesterreich, the three times champion was flown home from his residence in Ibiza, but the website also suggested he could be released from hospital next week.
Lauda suffered life-altering injuries in a crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix, which left him with severe burns to his head and damage to his lungs and blood.
He was taken ill at the beginning of August and his condition was described as ‘extremely critical’ at the time of surgery.
The Mercedes chairman had been hoping to return to the paddock for the season-opening Australian GP in Melbourne in March as he gradually recuperated from the complicated operation.
Ricciardo arrival feels like Alonso glory years
Renault’s F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul says that Daniel Ricciardo’s arrival at the team has left its staff as upbeat as they were during Fernando Alonso’s title-winning years.
The Australian’s decision to join the French manufacturer from Red Bull was the surprise of the season. Reflecting on the coup, Abiteboul said that the way his team’s factories in England and France reacted to the news harked back to the French car manufacturer’s glory years with Alonso in 2005 and 2006.
He told Motorsport.com, “ It was obviously a huge relief, fantastic news – and the way it was welcomed in the factories at Viry and Enstone was just amazing.”
“I was expecting something, but nothing in relation to what I have been able to witness. It was a fantastic moment. I have never seen a reaction like that in either of the two factories. It was reminding me of the titles with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006.”
Ghosn to appear in a Japanese court
The ousted chairman of Renaults parent company Nissan, Carlos Ghosn will speak publicly on Tuesday when he appears in court on charges of financial misconduct in Tokyo.
Ghosn is expected to declare his innocence and deny wrongdoing according to his lawyer. The businessman has been held in custody since the beginning of November, he will be given ten minutes to address the court.
It’s the first opportunity to mount a defence in person following industry-shaking allegations that he under-reported his compensation and transferred personal trading losses to Nissan. Ghosn will be asking prosecutors why he remains in custody.
His layers will speak publicly for the first time at 15:00 local time (06:00 GMT), to give Ghosn’s first public response to the charges.
Jose Munoz, Nissan’s chief performance officer, is taking a leave of absence to assist in “special tasks arising from recent events,” the company said on Jan. 5. Munoz also sits on the board of the alliance Ghosn chairs between Nissan, France’s Renault SA and Mitsubishi Motors.
Ghosn’s downfall has raised questions about the future of the decades-old alliance. While Nissan dismissed him as chairman shortly after his arrest, Renault retained Ghosn as chairman and chief executive officer, saying it needs evidence of his wrongdoing.
Brawn “impatient” for change
F1 managing director for motorsport and technical director Ross Brawn, says that he is “impatient” for the revamp of the sport in 2021 while insisting that the slower process of consultation is the right thing to do.
Over the past two years, the Englishman has been clear about the direction he wants to take the sport in, by creating better looking cars and creating a financially level playing field, all in the hope of creating better racing.
While progress on approving such radical rule changes has not been as fast as Brawn would have liked, he thinks that it would be wrong to rush through all-new regulations without getting them agreed with the competitors.
Speaking exclusively to Autosport about future rule changes, Brawn said: “I am satisfied with the direction. I am not satisfied with the pace. It’s been a big challenge to move things on, but I know what’s going on and I can see what’s happening and I know that if we hadn’t started this process, it certainly wouldn’t have got to where we’ve got to today.”
The Englishman admitted that he was impatient for the changes, but says that it is important to keep the teams involved and work with them to find solutions. But Brawn says that things are going in the right direction.
Brawn added, “We’re only two years into this journey, but I am optimistic that we’re going to see in the next few years the benefits of the work we are doing.”
The championship-winning technical director has been in his post for two years at the end of the month, although he says there is some frustration with what he wants to see, Brawn insists he is enjoying his position.
Saying “It’s a different dynamic, this job. In a team, you have the highs and lows of the races and if you’re fortunate enough to win a race it’s a massive thrill. But if you lose a race it can be pretty [sad]. So this is not quite the same, but we have our own race.”