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Ferrari replaces Arrivabene with Binotto as team principal

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MARANELLO, Italy (AP) Ferrari replaced Maurizio Arrivabene with Mattia Binotto as team principal on Monday following another failed Formula One title chase.

Binotto, who had been working as Ferrari’s chief technical officer, has been with the team for nearly 25 years.

“After four years of untiring commitment and dedication, Maurizio Arrivabene is leaving the team,” Ferrari said in a statement. “The decision was taken together with the company’s top management after lengthy discussions related to Maurizio’s long term personal interests as well as those of the team itself.

“With immediate effect, Mattia Binotto will take over as Scuderia Ferrari’s Team Principal. All technical areas will continue to report directly to Mattia.”

While Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel won the opening two races of the 2018 season and took pole position in three of the first four races, Ferrari’s performance waned as the year went on, enabling Mercedes to win a fifth straight drivers’ title with Lewis Hamilton.

Arrivabene had been in charge since the 2015 season, having previously worked for Philip Morris, a key Ferrari sponsor.

Arrivabene’s criticism of Ferrari’s technical department may have resulted in his ouster.

Having joined Ferrari in 1995 as a test engine engineer, Binotto was involved in the team’s golden years when Michael Schumacher won five titles. He was promoted to technical chief in July 2016.

Binotto had reportedly been chosen previously as Arrivabene’s successor by former Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne, who died in July.

Binotto was widely credited with creating cars that were competitive with Mercedes over the past two years – which put a spotlight on questionable strategic choices.

Arrivabene was criticized for the way Ferrari handled its home Italian Grand Prix in September, when a lack of team orders prevented Kimi Raikkonen from clearing the way for Vettel at the start – which was followed by contact between Vettel and Hamilton.

There was another tactical error concerning the choice of tires during qualifying for the Japanese GP. Hamilton clinched the title two races later in Mexico – with two GPs to spare – and finished with an 88-point advantage over Vettel.

In four seasons under Arrivabene, Ferrari won 14 races – 13 by Vettel and one by Raikkonen – and finished second three times in the constuctors’ standings.

The 2019 season opens with the Australian GP in Melbourne on March 17.

Former Sauber driver Charles Leclerc has been hired to replace Raikkonen for this season, with Raikkonen having gone to Sauber.

Raikkonen was the last Ferrari driver to win a championship in 2007.

Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

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FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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