London – Departing Ferrari Formula One team boss Mattia Binotto lasted longer in the job than expected, Mercedes rival Toto Wolff said on Wednesday.
The Austrian also made clear in Formula One’s latest “Beyond The Grid” podcast that he would not be opening any doors to the Italian.
Binotto leaves Maranello at the end of the month after handing in his resignation in November.
“It was always clear that he was under tremendous pressure. Being a team principal at Ferrari, you’d better have a good contract for your exit,” said Wolff.
“Now probably the unavoidable happened, but he held onto it longer than I thought.”
Binotto, a career-long Ferrari man, was appointed team principal in January 2019 but leaves with Ferrari still chasing a first title since 2008 after finishing runners-up to Red Bull this year.
Mercedes have taken top people from Ferrari before, with former technical director Aldo Costa joining in 2014 and helping design a string of winning cars before leaving at the end of 2019.
James Allison went from Ferrari technical director in 2016 to the same role at Mercedes in 2017.
Wolff ruled out an opening for Binotto, whose background is in engineering, however.
“No, I think there was too much porcelain broken between us over the last two years that this would be possible,” said the Mercedes boss.
“With the other teams, I can’t say. But certainly Mattia understands Formula One inside out and maybe he finds a role in another team.”
Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur is favourite to replace Binotto.
Wolff, who acknowledged he would have found the job tempting had he been approached by Ferrari before he joined Mercedes, said the role was about much more than just Formula One.
“It’s such a niche where the sport, the regulations, the governing body, the commercial rights holder, the competitors, all of us are basically locked in in this paddock cage. You need to be politically astute,” he said.
“You can be a good racing manager, and not understand about anything that’s going on commercially or outside in the world.”