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The Phantom of the Scuderia

"It's not time to look for responsabilities", Mattia Binotto stated following the catastrophic coming together that took both Ferraris out on the opening lap in Austria. It actually would be time, and the team principal knows it. But he also knows his finger wouldn't be pointing towards Sebastian or Charles, but upwards instead.

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The Phantom of the Scuderia
Fuente imagen: Scuderia Ferrari

To start this consideration we have to rewind the tape of a couple of years. Precisely to the 25th of July 2018.

On that day Formula 1 mourned the loss of Ferrari's CEO Sergio Marchionne. A controversial figure, loved by some, disliked by others. Nevertheless a charismatic and constant presence in the Formula 1 paddock.
If you'd happen to meet mister Marchionne on the sidewalk you probably wouldn't even notice him. An humble man in appearance, always wearing his famous blue jumper, a determined leader inside.
Sergio was a dedicated man that did everything in his power to merge his business duties with the racing events. It's even said he never slept more than four hours a night and that he used to smoke five packs of cigarettes per day to kill the subsequent stress. But, as said, he gave everything to be in the Ferrari's garage as many times as he possibly could.
And when Ferrari failed he was always there to stick his face in front of the cameras to take every bit of blame providing a solid shelter to the team.


After the death of Marchionne the two key figures of Ferrari are now CEO Louis Camilleri and chairman John Elkann.
Since day one they've tried to close Marchionne's chapter to start a new one. That's fair: Marchionne did the same when Luca Cordero di Montezemolo left the role in 2014. Stefano Domenicali resigned in favour of Maurizio Arrivabene and Sebastian Vettel was called to replace Fernando Alonso as the team's silver bullet.
What Elkann and Camilleri got wrong was... basically everything concerning the personnel turnover management.
Their very first move was the research of a new top driver. They didn't have to look much around since Charles Leclerc was already making his name in the Circus.
Kimi Raikkonen got notified of his dropping to Alfa Romeo on the Friday ahead of the 2018 Italian Gran Prix, the most important race of the year for Ferrari. The Scuderia that weekend managed to secure a front-row lock-out, but on poleposition sat the "wrong" car. The awful timing of the announcement put the final nail in the coffin of Sebastian Vettel's title hopes: Raikkonen understandably wasn't prone to any team game and defended his first position against the team mate. Vettel, as a consequence, fell victim of Hamilton's pressure and ended up spinning on lap one, opening the way to the Englishman's fifth world championship.

At the end of the year Maurizio Arrivabene was sacked as well, apparently without a name ready to replace him. The two bosses therefore decided for a late promotion of Mattia Binotto on January the 7th 2019. Mattia, being a great engineer, had been playing a key role in the development of the car as technical director, but he suddenly found himself with a role too big for him. If his engineering abilities are indeed undisputed, the team's management is just another thing. And, furthermore, he was left alone.

@Scuderia Ferrari
Source: Scuderia Ferrari


Ferrari's 2019 season went down in the history books for the wrong reasons. The SF90 surely was not as competitive as the previous SF71H was, but somehow it managed to stand its ground.
The huge ordeal came with the drivers' management. Sport's veteran (and legend) Sebastian Vettel and rising star Charles Leclerc locked horns on the very first year of cohabitees. The relationship between the pair quickly failed and, despite Silvia Hoffer's great efforts to keep it inside the Ferrari's bubble, it was immediately acknowledged by the entire Formula 1 world.

The first clear clash came during the qualifying session of  the 2019 -again- Italian GP. Charles Leclerc was supposed to give the tow to Sebastian Vettel on the last run of Q3. Instead, he slowed the pack down, preventing everyone, including his team mate, from having the last flying lap.
Charles this way secured the poleposition for the Ferrari's home race, but everyone in the team was mad at him.
It's told that evening Leclerc, Vettel and Binotto spent one hour in a private room, while unspeakable words echoed between those walls.
More troubles came in Russia, when Vettel took his 'revenge' and later in Brazil as well resulting in a double DNF.
Binotto arguably never seemed to be able of handling such a boiling tension and the best solution Ferrari came up with was cancelling the last trace of Marchionne's presidency: already on December 2019 the Scuderia was working on replacing Sebastian Vettel.

The official announcement only came last May, caughting the German by surprise. Another proof of a flooded drivers' management.

But, many of you would be arguing, it's unlikely that last Sunday's crash at the Styrian GP was dued to a rivalry between Leclerc and Vettel. And they would indeed be right, because there's a second big issue regarding the Ferrari's drivers.
This problem is a combination of two: first, the massive pressure on the drivers even when the car is far from being competitive; second, the weak defence the team provides to the drivers from public opinion's attacks.
This lack of shelter is arguably the main reason of both what happened at the Styrian GP and Sebastian Vettel's multiple mistakes in the last couple of years.

Keep in mind: no one is trying to deny Leclerc's big mistake, we are just analyzing the situation from a wider prospective.


Ferrari's problem has never lied in their top-tier line-up. It's in the very top of the company.
Elkann and Camilleri most of the time are nowhere near the team, both literally (in the paddock) and figuratively (as a support to the emplyees, at least in public).
For instance, it's very likely that the only sentence you remember from John Elkann is his absurd celebration for the fastest lap at the 2019 Australian GP.

The team is run by two ghosts that left Binotto alone in a role that arguably doesn't fully fit him; that are ready to celebrate, but not to stand tall to take responsabilities in the defeat; that are evanescent bosses instead of leaders -at least from an outside view.

And, without that strong figure so desperately needed, the team fatigues to blame someone. Always pointing the finger towards a lifeless object, "the car", as if it was not developed by real people; always in the "sh*t happens" mood instead of being willing to dig deep in the team's clear issues; always pointing out something that is already in the sun, instead of actually looking up and asking the bosses what they really want to do with the team.

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