Binotto reiterated on Friday that during the winter Vettel was indeed the team’s first choice, but the crisis and the rule changes that accompanied it triggered a change of plan.
“Certainly, we always told him during the winter, in private and in public, that he would have been our first choice, which I confirm,” said Binotto.
“It is normal that during winter many drivers ask us if there are driving opportunities for Ferrari, so we have certainly been contacted. It didn’t change our position, so Seb was our first choice.
“What has happened since? I think the situation of the virus and the pandemic, which has changed the whole world, not just our motorsport, our F1. The budget ceiling has changed a lot, and is much tighter, the regulations have been moved from ’21 to ’22, which was kind of important to us.
“Cars that have been frozen, or almost frozen, for 2020 and ’21. So let’s say the whole situation has changed.
“And on top of that, the season didn’t start, so Seb didn’t even have the opportunity to get back on track to prove how motivated he really was to drive for Ferrari, which was somewhat unfortunate for him. ”
“So during the closure of Ferrari, we finally had to reconsider our position. We made a decision, so it was definitely our decision, it is our responsibility, and we communicated it.
“I heard that he was surprised – I remember he was surprised, yes certainly, I understand, it’s pretty normal to be surprised. Although he accepted our decision, I would even say today that he is not entirely satisfied with it, what I say is something that is normal and obvious. ”
Despite the obvious tensions in the camp due to the impending split, Binotto wanted to congratulate Vettel and the contribution he has made over the years.
“I think it’s been a great time, five years so far, six with the current season. He’s a great champion, but he’s also a great person. I think everyone at Ferrari, our fans, the people who work internally, really love the time with him.
“I think it’s something we fully respect. Personally, I respect him very much, him as a professional and as a person, and I think that this is completely unchanged from our decision. “