The simultaneous presence of Mattia Binotto – team principal of Ferrari, Haas’ Gunther Steiner and Racing Point’s Otmar Szafnauer gave the press plenty of chances to talk about the latest big driver market’s move.
Earlier this week, Sergio Perez announced his forced departure from Racing Point. The statement was followed by the announce of Sebastian Vettel replacing him in just a matter of hours.
Haas quickly joined the discussion, when rumors linked the American team to the wandering Checo.
The team principals’ press conference at Mugello has subsequently rapidly turned towards this white-hot topic.
“We took a bit of time to make the decision between Sergio and Sebastian which just goes to show what a great job Sergio has done for us for the last seven years”, Szafnauer commented.
“However with Aston Martin coming in, and a bit of financial backing behind the team, a new factory happening in Silverstone, improving the team, adding twenty per cent more personnel, we’ve got some infrastructure too, that we’re embarking on to make this go faster, and therefore a driver like Sebastian who brings with him the experience of winning four World Championships and 53 races can only be beneficial for us. And he will help us take that next step that we all need to take in the coming years such that we can consistently race among the top three, top four teams.”
But the departure of Perez will deny the team of a consistent driver, and the team principal is well-aware of that: “Sergio knows the team well, he’s got loads of experience. He’s a tenacious racer come Sunday, he’s a good qualifier. Rarely makes mistakes, brings home the points and if there’s a sniff of a podium, he’s usually there. So yeah, we are giving away quite a bit and I wish Checo the best of luck. He deserves to be in Formula 1 and I hope he can find a spot and we’re racing against him next year.”
Szafnauer also explained the supposed lack of market updates towards their leaving driver: “We did keep Sergio up to date as well as his manager Julian. When the decision is a difficult one, and it hasn't been made, there really isn’t much more that you can say. So yeah, I don’t think we could have said anything more, otherwise we’d be guessing what the future was”.
Gunther Steiner was at that point in the spotlight as well, considering the rumors about Checo’s manager already approaching Haas.
“I think Otmar did a pretty good sales pitch for him -Steiner said- He must be his agent as well! What Otmar said is true. He’s a good racer but we are just looking. There are a lot of candidates out there at the moment which we are talking with, which we are thinking about and we just need to come up with a decision. For a team, it’s quite good to be in the market because you have got a lot of things which you can pick up. We are in no rush to do anything and we just think it through, we come to a conclusion with an answer when we are ready.”
Despite his former silver-bullet driver announcing his new plan, Mattia Binotto was mainly asked about what the 1000th GP for the Scuderia represents for him: “On a personal level it’s an honour. I think being here today with my current role, head of Scuderia Ferrari and team principal and somehow also greeting the 1000, I think it’s certainly a responsibility but first of all it’s an honour because it’s a big history. It’s so long since 1950, always been here, never stopped. I think being the very first one, the most winning team, Constructor, Drivers’, number of race victories. So, at the end, I think it really is an honour, because when I was a kid, I was a fan. And so I never thought I could be here.”