"I confirm that's it's normal during wintertime that many drivers ask us if there was an opportunity to drive for Ferrari. We have suddenly been contacted. That didn't change our position. Seb was our first choice.
"What has happened since then, I think the pandemic situation that changed the entire world, not only our motorsport, our F1, [but] the budget cap has been changed by quite a lot, a lot more strict, the regulations have been postponed from '21 to '22, which was important for us, the cars have been almost frozen from 2020 for 2021, so let's say the entire situation has changed.
"On top of that, the season has not started, so there was no opportunity, not even for Seb of being back on track to prove how much he was motivated to drive for Ferrari. It has been somehow unfortunate for him.
"During the shutdown, as Ferrari, we had to consider our position. We took a decision, so that was our decision, it was our responsibility, and we communicated to him."
Vettel confirmed on Thursday the decision came as a surprise to him, to which Binotto replied: "I heard he was surprised, which I remember well he was surprised. I would say yes, certainly. I understand it, it's pretty normal to be surprised.
"I think even today he is not, let's say, fully happy with it, which is something that's normal and obvious."
Despite Vettel falling to add to his four titles with the Scuderia, Binotto still has great admiration for Vettel as a driver and a person.
"It has been a great period, five years so far, six with the current season. He is a great champion but is as well a great person," said Binotto.
"I think everybody in Ferrari, our fans, the people working internally really love the time with him. That's something we fully respect.
"I personally, myself, appreciate a lot him as a perfectionist and as a person, and that's unchanged compared to our decision."
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