Following Ferrari’s failure to win the world championship this year, Binotto offered his resignation after he felt he did not have the full support of the Italian manufacturer’s management team.
Ferrari have accepted his decision to step down and are currently finalizing a replacement, with Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur the favorite to take the job.
Binotto’s departure could disrupt the form of one of Red Bull’s main rivals, with Horner conceding the good job the Swiss-born Italian had done at Maranello.
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Asked by Autosport at the FIA Gala Awards in Italy if he was surprised by events at Ferrari, Horner said: “I think, in all honesty to Mattia, he has done a very good job producing a car and a very competitive engine for Ferrari, certainly this year. Obviously, they have had their operational moments.
“He dedicated a long period of his career and his life to Ferrari, and I’m sure it must be very difficult for him to leave this team after all this time.
“So, of course, a huge pressure in this team, because it is indeed a national team, as well as an OEM team.
“I think this will now be the sixth team principal I’ve sat across the table with since joining Red Bull. [from 2005] and, obviously, you know, a lot of pressure on this job.
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Mattia Binotto, Team Principal, Ferrari
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Horner attended the FIA gala on Friday night to collect Red Bull’s first Constructors’ Championship trophy since 2013.
Reflecting on the battle with Ferrari this year, he pointed to Max Verstappen’s victory at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix as a key moment to get Red Bull’s championship ambitions back on track after a difficult start to the year.
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“I think they [Ferrari] had a faster car than us at the start of the season,” he said.
“But we were able to stay in touch and that was very, very important.
“Our championship was 21 races, because we missed the first by doing a double DNF. But we had to stay with them.
“And, for me, one of the crucial weekends was Imola with the sprint race and then the victory.
“Winning those two races to finish 1-2 and beat Ferrari at home was, I think, psychologically a big thing for us as a team, potentially for them as well.
“I think then as we developed the car and improved it and lost a bit of weight, the speed came.