Former Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto is on the verge of agreeing a deal that will see him head the Audi project despite being paid extra money to stay away from an F1 rival following his exit from the Scuderia.
This news comes from one of Italy’s most prominent journalists.
Binotto had worked at Ferrari for a number of years, rising up the ranks, but 2022 was a particularly tough season for him.
An engineer by trade, Binotto seemed to have a challenger at his hands that was capable of launching a championship fight.
However, a number of reliability issues and controversial strategical calls eventually meant the Ferrari hierarchy lost its faith in the Italian.
Since then, Frederic Vasseur has been recruited by Ferrari, while Binotto has been paid ‘extra compensation’ to ensure that he has a gardening leave before joining a rival.
This is a common practice in F1, with teams keen to ensure that their secrets are not divulged to rivals after such an exit.
Mercedes and Red Bull have both distanced themselves from Binotto in the aftermath of his Ferrari dismissal, but a new project seems to have appealed to the 53-year-old.
With Audi officially set to enter the sport in 2026, it goes without saying that the team would want someone with high technical acumen to guide its challenge.
It has been reported that the partnership between Audi and Sauber has already started to bear fruit, with the team working flat out behind the scenes to ensure a seamless integration ahead of the 2026 season.
The operation is currently being assisted by former McLaren boss Andreas Seidl and Alessandro Alunni Bravi as its representative.
Frederic Vasseur was previously involved in the project, but he is now leading the charge at Ferrari.
This vacancy is yet to be filled and Binotto has been identified as the best candidate by Audi.
Speaking on the Pit Talk podcast, Italian reporter Leo Turrini said, “I’m sure that Binotto will be able to stay in Formula 1 after the gardening period. I am absolutely certain that he has had a proposal from Audi to lead the team that will be on the grid in the near future.”
It has been reported that Audi is currently in talks with Ferrari to try to waive some of the time off his gardening leave to make the transition easier.