Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto says he has no regrets in choosing not to sign the now seven-time Formula 1 champion Sir Lewis Hamilton, despite having multiple discussions with the Brit two years ago.
After F1 announced its revised calendar for the coming year over the weekend after both Chinese and Australian GPs were moved, plans have now accelerated toward winter testing in Barcelona next month.
Now preparing for the opening race of the season in Bahrain at the end of March, Scuderia’s team principal has openly stated that he believes Ferrari made the right choice not to pursue the Mercedes man back in 2019.
As Hamilton had claimed his sixth World Drivers’ Championship 13 months ago, rumours ran rife throughout the season prior that the 36-year-old could jump ship to the Prancing Horse.
With both driver and prospective constructor exchanging admiring glances and words, however, Hamilton remained with Mercedes, going on to seal a seventh F1 crown last term.
Opting instead to turn their focus to Charles Leclerc from Sauber, Binotto – who took over from Maurizio Arrivabene at the start of 2019 – remains adamant Ferrari made the right choice.
Indeed, as he told Sky Sports F1, the Scuderia boss is bullish the team’s new line-up with Carlos Sainz Jr this season will be challenging the likes of Hamilton for honours.
“I don’t think there will be regret because at the end when we took some decisions, we took them thinking they were the right decisions and today we have a fantastic driver like Charles where we invested a lot as Ferrari.”
In the wake of their struggles last season, Binotto continued to gush over Leclerc and his potential, while stating there was no regret on missing out in pairing the most decorated driver with the most illustrious manufacturer in F1 history.
“I think he’s got a lot of talent. If he’s got the right car, I’m pretty sure he can challenge Lewis Hamilton.
“We’ve made our choices, and I think together with Carlos we are very strong. I don’t think there will be any regret.”
Intriguingly, after Ferrari’s well documented on-track disharmonies and following the departure of Sebastian Vettel, Binotto is keen to state that both of his drivers will not have preferential treatment this campaign.
“There is not a number one and number two, they will have equal opportunities – certainly at the start of the season.
“I’m pretty happy then that they are free to fight.”