There is a school of thought that stability ultimately breeds success, not just in Formula 1 but in any sport.
Teams often talk of “three-year plans” to get them fighting at the front for wins and titles – although very few seldom ever make this self-imposed deadline as it goes sailing past with their concern still firmly entrenched in the midfield and no closer to topping the trio at the front.
If it goes wrong, someone else is brought in to relaunch the program and adopt their own multi-year plan. It’s a vicious circle that can be hard to break.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is nothing at all, and let the stability seep through the organization as roots are firmly planted and your team can develop into a strong, winning machine.
Take Red Bull and Mercedes as exhibit A. Christian Horner and Toto Wolff are two of the longest-serving team principals in F1, having taken over in 2005 and 2013, respectively.
Red Bull especially did not panic and sack Horner during the 2005-2008 period when the team was sniping for the odd podium finish.
In 2009, Horner guided the team to a championship push, before the Sebastian Vettel era kicked in. Lean times then followed once again during the Mercedes era, before Horner struck gold again with Max Verstappen.
Which brings us to Ferrari.
Horner made a comment last week at the FIA prize gala that the new Ferrari Team Principal would be his sixth during his time at Red Bull – with that honor going to Fred Vasseur.
It’s been a high turnover, with an average period in charge of three years apiece for his most immediate five predecessors.
So, where are they all now and what happened to the men who tried, and mostly all failed to restore the Scuderia to championship winning ways?
Todt and Domenicali
JEAN TODT – 1993-2007
Six Drivers’ and Seven Constructors’ Championships
With the exception of Enzo himself, Jean Todt is Ferrari’s greatest F1 boss.
He guided the team out of the doldrums of the mid-1990s to complete domination of F1 in the closing years of one millennium to the opening years of the next.
Alongside Michael Schumacher and Ross Brawn, they steamrolled all before, rewriting the record books, before the great German was eased into a 2006 retirement.
Todt picked up with Kimi Raikkonen in 2007 – claiming the last title double for Ferrari, before stepping back as team boss in early ’08, severing all ties with Ferrari a year later in preparation for a shot at replacing Max Mosley as FIA President – which succeeded.
Where is he now?
Todt was elected three times as FIA President, his term finally ending in December 2021, days after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to be replaced by Mohammed ben Sulayem.
He is now a UN Special Envoy for Road Safety.
STEFANO DOMENICALI – 2008-2014
One Constructors’ Championship
After the departures of Todt and Brawn, team manager Domenicali was promoted to principal in time for the 2008 season.
He came close to delivering yet another title double that year as Felipe Massa was pipped to the Drivers’ in that last-gasp finish in Brazil by Lewis Hamilton – although a record-extending 16th Constructors’ was firmly in the cabinet.
Ferrari (and McLaren) were caught out by the 2009 regulations having pushed so hard in ’08, but they did win in Belgium through Raikkonen.
Back on form in 2010, new signing Fernando Alonso was cost the title in the Abu Dhabi finale after a strategy blunder failed to recognize Sebastian Vettel as the main threat, and not Mark Webber.
Lean years followed with poor cars, although Alonso did nearly drag the F2012 to the title, losing by three points to the far superior RB8 and Vettel once again.
Domenicali resigned after the 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix, citing Ferrari’s poor start to the turbo hybrid era – and headed off away from F1 – with spells at Audi, Lamborghini and the FIA’s single-seater commission.
Where is he now?
In 2021, Domenicali became the F1 CEO, replacing Chase Carey to the universal support of the other team bosses given his record.
Mattiacci and Arrivabene
MARCO MATTIACCI – 2014
In the aftermath of Domenicali’s resignation, Ferrari turned to the head of its North American road car division, Marco Mattiacci – a company man.
He lasted 16 races at the helm, but decided to sign Vettel for 2015, forcing Alonso out of the exit door.
Mattiacci left the team at the end of 2014, Ferrari’s first winless campaign since 1993, popping up at Faraday Future as Chief Brand and Chief Commercial Officer.
Where is he now?
Mattiacci is now at Aston Martin Lagonda as in a similar role to those he fulfilled at Faraday.
MAURIZIO ARRIVA BENE – 2015-2018
If Mattiacci was a company man, then Maurizio Arrivabene was a brand man.
Put in post by Sergio Marchionne, Arrivabene was felt to have more understanding of F1 following his long association with Ferrari sponsor Philip Morris and Marlboro.
Under his stewardship, Ferrari came close to the 2017 and 2018 titles, but a combination of poor team management, reliability and driving errors from Vettel cost the team their shot at dethroning Hamilton and Mercedes.
Following the implosion of late 2018 – and Marchionne’s passing earlier that summer, Arrivabene was out in time for the 2019 season.
Where is he now?
Arrivabene was on the board of Juventus Football Club since 2012, and became CEO in 2021.
However, he resigned along with directors Andrea Agnelli (he of European Super League notoriety) and Ballon D’Or winner Pavel Nedved in November 2022 amid claims of financial wrongdoing at the Italian top-flight outfit.
Binotto ends in failure
MATTIA BINOTTO – 2019-2022
Mattia Binotto’s tenure ended despite the Scuderia claiming P2 in the Constructors’ and P2 in the Drivers’ through Charles Leclerc in 2022, but it promised so much more.
The F1-75 was the pace-setter in the early stages of the season as it was able to maintain speed despite porpoising and Red Bull’s early season reliability concerns.
However, related operational, strategic and reliability errors from the team meant the title slipped away to Max Verstappen and Red Bull.
A late rally did ensure Mercedes were fended off for P2, but Binotto’s time was deemed a failure and so he resigned.
Having guided the team back from its shocking 2020 season to midfield runners in ’21, Binotto, a skilled engineer led a team which built a very quick car in ’22.
Rather than allowing the team to grow even further in ’23 under his leadership, it was deemed that a change would be necessary as Vasseur takes over from January 9th, 2023.
Where is he now?
Upon leaving the Scuderia, Binotto will take a period of gardening leave, as is normal in such cases to prevent him from taking current Ferrari information to a new team.
If and when he decides to get back involved in F1, Binotto will not be short of offers, although Wolff has already ruled out a switch to Mercedes.