Binotto reveals 'most difficult' moment in F1 career

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Outgoing Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto says that he will always remember a phone call he made to Sebastian Vettel in May 2020 as one of" the most difficult tasks" he's ever faced in his professional career.

Back then, amid a massive disruption of Formula 1's campaign due to Covid-19 that led to a four-month delay to the start of the sport's 2020 season, Ferrari took the unusual decision to announce its driver line-up for the following year well before the start of the season.

But the defining element of the Italian outfit's announcement was the decision – which impacted Binotto personally - not to renew Vettel's contract with the Scuderia.

"First, Sebastian is a great, great driver, and I don’t think it’s myself telling it, it’s really what he has achieved – fantastic, outstanding, amazing," said Binotto, speaking before the end of this year's campaign.

"As Ferrari, we have been lucky to have him as part of the team and it has been six important years. 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."

Although Vettel spent his final two years as a Grand Prix driver racing for Aston Martin, Binotto's respect for the German was such that the Italian outfit took some time out in Abu Dhabi last month to celebrate its former charger ahead of his final F1 outing.

As for Vettel's failure to return the world title to the House of Maranello during his six-year tenure with the team, a shortfall for which the German only blames himself, Binotti alleviated somewhat Vettel's responsibility insisting the loss had been the result of a collective effort.

"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," added 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."

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