Team chief Mattia Binotto on Friday revealed that he rehearsed three times before calling Sebastian Vettel to tell the driver he was being dumped by Ferrari.
In an interview with Sky Italia ahead of this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Binotto said he had prepared himself for a difficult conversation with the four-time champion whom he described as “a beautiful person.”
He said the team had made the decision before the start of the season, knowing that Vettel’s contract ran to the end of 2020, and explained that the German’s reaction was ‘intelligent and proactive’.
“Before I called him, I repeated mentally three times what I should tell him and how,” said Binotto. “The choice about Seb was not easy because we love him for what he has been, for the way he behaved and for what he has given the team.
“But there comes a time when you have to have the clarity to make choices looking for the future.”
Binotto said that ahead of the new technical formula to be introduced in F1 in 2022, Ferrari had a duty to look ahead and find “the strength to make choices, looking to the future.”
He added that Vettel had behaved entirely decently.
“Did Seb get in the way? No,” he said. “He did not hang up the phone. He is a very intelligent person, a beautiful person and he has maintained his character during a season in which there has been no lack of difficulties.
“He was never negative – instead he was pro-active and he was a very respectable person.”
He said the future driving duo of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz would bring a new dynamic to the team.
“Charles has the enthusiasm of the fans and the team from the way he produces lap times in qualifying, with his overtaking and how he defends on track – Enzo Ferrari would have loved it,” Binotto explained.
“Regarding Carlos, I personally see him as a leader. He is a great worker. He hooks up with engineers and asks for more.”
And, he added, with an oblique reference to the team’s troubles with the car this year: “The drivers today are really the least of our problems…”