Ferrari Formula 1 team principal Mattia Binotto will skip this weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after falling unwell with a non-COVID-19 related illness.
It will mark the third race weekend that Binotto will have missed this year, adding to the Turkish and Bahrain Grands Prix. Like the previous two events, Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies will once again takeover responsibility of the trackside operations in Abu Dhabi.
Binotto returned to the F1 paddock for last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix and is understood to have become ill while he was in Bahrain. Rather than travelling out to Abu Dhabi with the rest of the Ferrari team on Monday, Binotto instead decided to fly directly back home to Italy.
Binotto’s absence means he will miss Sebastian Vettel’s final race weekend with Ferrari before the four-time world champion heads to Aston Martin, with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz coming in to replace the German alongside Charles Leclerc.
At the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, Binotto said he was going to oversee operations from Ferrari’s Maranello base at some of the remaining races of the season in order to streamline the Italian squad’s preparations for 2021.
“You need always to balance your tasks at the racetrack and at the factory,” Binotto explained. “Still the factory is important where we are developing the car, preparing the cars.
“I think I will not follow all the races, even in 2020 I am already considering eventually skipping some of the racing in the last part of the season starting from Turkey.
“Because at the end, when you’re responsible for an entire team, certainly the race event is important, but the entire… management of the entire team is even more important.”
Ferrari heads into the 17th and final race of 2020 sitting sixth in the constructors’ championship on 131 points, 41 points behind fifth-placed Renault and 28 clear of AlphaTauri.
Leclerc also occupies sixth place in the drivers’ championship heading into the season finale, but faces a three-place grid penalty in Abu Dhabi after his involvement in the first-lap collision at the Sakhir GP.