Former Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto says his team flunked its best opportunity to win a Formula 1 title in a decade with Sebastian Vettel.
The four-time world champion joined Ferrari in 2015 in a bid to achieve his childhood dream of becoming the first German since Michael Schumacher to win the Formula 1 crown with the Scuderia.
Vettel ultimately came up short in his six seasons there, twice finishing runner-up to Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes in 2017 and 2018.
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In both instances, Vettel led the championship only to blow his lead either by virtue of mistakes on his behalf or car performance dips
Many have come and gone from the Maranello outfit. Formula 1 greats Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso failed before Vettel while Charles Leclerc looked likely to threaten in 2022 only to suffer a similar slide to his former teammate.
Vettel has been honest about his failed tenure at Ferrari, a sentiment the outgoing team principal echoed.
“I think he is somehow right, because when he joined Ferrari, he was ambitious, his objective was to win the title with Ferrari, and I think together with himself, it was our dream and our objective as well,” said Binotto.
“It has been a failure for him, but it has been a failure all together as a team. He has been very close, or the closest he has been was ’17 and ’18, so we had a few opportunities.
“We didn’t get it and I think when your final objective is to do that, and you do not achieve it, it’s a failure.”
Ferrari decided not to re-sign Vettel beyond 2020, leaving him to join Aston Martin the following season.
Vettel contested just two seasons with his new team before calling it quits, exiting the sport as one of the most iconic drivers of the modern era.
Speaking on that momentous call that opened the door for Carlos Sainz to join Ferrari, Binotto said it was a tough assignment.
“As Ferrari, we have been lucky to have him as part of the team and it has been six important years,” said Binotto.
“He brought a lot as a driver, but more than that, I think he brought a lot as a person, and each single Ferrari fan still loves Sebastian.
“I think it’s a matter of fact, as each single fan loves Ferrari still, I think we in Ferrari, all the people in Ferrari, are still loving him, and that’s the way we are feeling. They have been incredible years, I think .
“[It was] difficult for myself, coming to the end, somehow to announce to him that we will not renew. That maybe has been the most difficult task I’ve done myself through my career.
“When you love such a person and you really enjoy working with him, it’s always difficult to come to the end.
“I think it has been an important moment as well for my career itself, because from that… through difficulties you become stronger.
“But it’s the one that we will remember as the most difficult one.”
Kimi Raikkonen remains Ferrari’s last Formula 1 champion, winning the title in 2007 over Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso by one point.
Before that, Schumacher claimed five titles with Ferrari between 2000 and 2004, adding to his two championship wins with Benetton from 1994 and 1995.
Binotto ultimately leaves Ferrari without the so desperately desired championships.
He joins a long list of team principals after Jean Todt who tried and failed – including Stefano Domenicali, Marco Mattiacci, and Maurizio Arrivabene.
Former Sauber boss Frederic Vasseur will assume the role of team principal in January.
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