JANUARY 8, 2019
Mekies favourite to replace Ferrari's Binotto
Laurent Mekies has emerged as the favourite to replace Mattia Binotto as Ferrari's technical boss.
After a long power struggle, Binotto has been announced as the new Ferrari team principal, replacing the ousted Maurizio Arrivabene.
"The decision was taken after lengthy discussions related to Maurizio's long term personal interests", part of the Ferrari press release read.
"All technical areas will continue to report directly to Mattia."
The latter sentence would seem to indicate that Binotto will remain technical boss as well as team principal.
But Flavio Briatore doubts that will happen.
"We'll see how Binotto runs the team," the former Renault team boss told Adnkronos.
"What I cannot imagine is a dual role as technical director and team leader. So we'll have to see who replaces him as technical director," Briatore said.
Auto Motor und Sport and La Gazzetta dello Sport speculate that Binotto taking over was always part of a plan devised by Sergio Marchionne.
Marchionne, then Ferrari president, died last July, triggering the Arrivabene-Binotto power struggle.
Briatore thinks Ferrari failing to win the 2018 title was the final nail in the coffin of Arrivabene's exit.
"Ferrari had everything to win the championship but then could not complete it," he said.
"When you do not win, change is inevitable, and Maranello understands this."
Briatore also hailed Binotto, saying he did an "excellent job" to produce "a very fast car" in 2018.
At the same time, he blamed Arrivabene for mismanaging Sebastian Vettel's title charge.
"They just needed to put more pressure on Hamilton and perhaps push him into a mistake. But the truth is that Ferrari was not able to produce that pressure," said Briatore.
Former Ferrari boss Cesare Fiorio agrees with Briatore, saying that because Arrivabene "is a man from the advertising world, he didn't have enough racing experience".
"Binotto was left without a leader after the death of Marchionne," he told Italy's Radio 1.
"I cross my fingers for Mattia, who has great self confidence and rich experience," added Fiorio.
La Gazzetta dello Sport and Germany's Bild newspaper say Laurent Mekies is the frontrunner to take over from Binotto as technical director.
Last year, Ferrari controversially poached Mekies from the FIA, where he was working as Charlie Whiting's deputy.