Mattia Binotto crossed paths with Fred Vasseur, his successor as Ferrari team principal, as he returned to the F1 paddock ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.
And, intriguingly, Binotto arrived at Monza with a Netflix camera crew in his slipstream as rumours persist that he is set to be announced as the new team boss of Alpine.
Binotto was dismissed by Ferrari at the end of 2022 as he paid the price for the team’s failure to capitalise on a strong start to the season, bringing an end to a career spanning almost three decades at Maranello.
Ferrari bosses past and present reunite at Monza
Vasseur, fresh from leading Alfa Romeo to sixth place in the Constructors’ standings, was announced as his successor with Ferrari winless in his 13 races in charge so far.
Much intrigue has surrounded the next move of Binotto, an engine expert credited for transforming Ferrari’s fortunes in the early years of F1’s V6 hybrid era, with the 53-year-old strongly linked with a move to the Renault-owned Alpine team in recent weeks.
Alpine raised eyebrows during July’s Belgian GP by announcing that team principal Otmar Szafnauer and sporting director Alan Permane would both leave the team when the race weekend was done, creating an apparent absence of leadership at the Enstone-based outfit.
Binotto, who spent four full seasons in charge of Ferrari in total, is widely regarded as the outstanding candidate to take the position on a full-time basis with his engine expertise likely to appeal to an Alpine team whose power unit still lags behind their rival manufacturers.
In an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com’s Sam Cooper at last weekend’s Dutch GP, Alpine driver Pierre Gasly indicated that he had been led to believe that vice president Bruno Famin will lead the team until the end of the season.
“This is stuff which we’ll discuss internally,” Gasly said. “But Bruno is in charge at the moment and he’s going to be in charge until the end of the year.
“I think it’s important just to work in the best way possible. We all have a common goal. We all want to put Alpine right at the top and it takes some time, it takes a lot of work and that’s where the focus will be for the rest of the season.”
Appearing on F1’s Beyond The Grid podcast this week, Vasseur lifted the lid on when he was first approached to replace Binotto, revealing he mulled over Ferrari’s offer for 24 hours before deciding to accept the position.
“It was just after Abu Dhabi last year,” he revealed. “It was a bit of a strange feeling because everybody spoke about it during the Abu Dhabi weekend, but it was not the case.
“The week after we had the first discussion. I was flying back from Abu Dhabi, I did a pit stop at home and then I was in Switzerland.
“It was a strange story, but I was already in contact with John Elkann [Ferrari chairman]. First I was a customer of Ferrari for the engine with the Alfa Romeo team, that the title sponsor was Alfa Romeo, part of the group, it meant that we were already in contact. And we had the first discussion to know if I could be interested with the position.
“I didn’t want to be too emotional, because when you are doing this job – and I’m doing this job for 32 or 33 years – for sure to have the possibility to join Ferrari as the team principal, it’s somehow not the pinnacle, but somehow the biggest challenge, let’s say.
“The pinnacle is if you win with Ferrari, then it’s a bit different.
“And to have in front of me the biggest challenge of my job it’s…a challenge. I took 24 hours to think about it also not for me, because for me, for sure, it’s a kind of megaproject. When you play tennis you want to do Wimbledon, when you’re doing my job to be the team principal of Ferrari, for sure it’s what you want to do.
“But I took 24 hours because it was more for my family and I know that I put a lot of pressure on my family so far and I knew that it will be another step. And I wanted to discuss with them if they were keen to do it.”
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