This week, unconfirmed rumours suggested that Italian team boss Mattia Binotto would be replaced this winter by current Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur. Further, it is also understood that there is a huge rift between Charles Leclerc and Mattia Binotto, to the point that Leclerc refuses to even talk to his team boss, since Silverstone in the summer.
Once the news story broke about Binotto being replaced, Scuderia Ferrari was quick to issue a short statement saying, “Regarding the speculation in some media regarding the position of Mattia Binotto, Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal, Ferrari states that these rumours are completely unfounded.”
The kiss of death, certainly if you take professional English football as an example. Once a coach is rumoured to be leaving a club, and the club issues a statement claiming they have full faith in him, it is certain they’re leaving.
Gazzetta dello Sport wrote this week that Binotto will still be the person in charge in Abu Dhabi, but that he will have to leave after that. Binotto has long been under fire for the way he has run Ferrari. The team has made a good start to the season, but due to some strategic mistakes, Ferrari is currently working hard to avoid falling back to third in the constructors’ championship whilst a resurgent Mercedes is on a charge headed by George Russell and his win in Brazil.
Leclerc speaks about team boss rumours
Asked about all the speculation about the future of his boss, Charles Leclerc was dismissive and said that Ferrari will not pay attention to these kinds of rumours, which always tend to happen at the same time every year.
“On the whole, there are always rumours around Formula 1 and in particular around Ferrari, and that doesn’t change, obviously. When we get to the end of the season, there are always rumours about us,” Charles Leclerc said in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
“But I think as a team we really need to focus on our work, try to ignore everything that’s going on around the team; people tend to forget how big a step we made from last year to this year.”
“There’s certainly another step we need to take but I’m sure we’ll take it together, starting with this race – I hope we can finish on a high note this season – but other than that, there’s nothing more to say; I don’t think we’ll be paying too much attention to this.”
Leclerc added that “stability” would only help Scuderia Ferrari deliver in the future, even if his team failed to challenge Red Bull for the titles in 2022.
“I think the stability is paying off. I mean, we have shown in the last few years that we are improving, as I said earlier, so there is another step we have to do, but we are working on it, and I am sure we will get there,” added the Monegasque.
Fighting for a result
Ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc is second in the drivers’ championship on equal points with Red Bull driver Sergio Perez. The Ferrari driver said that second place this year would be a fitting reward after leading the championship at the start of the year before gradually losing ground to Max Verstappen.
“It’s been a bit of an up and down story over the last few races. Brazil was good but unfortunately after the incident [with Lando Norris on the lap 7 restart] it was a case of getting back in front. But the pace was there, so hopefully we’ll be strong enough to fight for the top spots,” he said.
“Obviously, we’re fighting for second in the drivers’ championship and also second in the constructors’ championship, and again, after going through two very difficult years in 2020 and 2021, it will be nice to fight at the top again – and even though our goal is to fight for the championship eventually – after those two difficult years, it will be nice to be second.”
Culture of refusal at Ferrari
Within Ferrari there has been a culture for years of judging each other for what has happened with subsequent sackings regularly issued over the years.
Binotto has tried to put an end to that. But not judging each other for what happened seems to have started working against the team.
It makes nobody take responsibility for everything that goes wrong. Moreover – writes the French sports paper l’Equipe – the relationship between Charles Leclerc and his team boss is terrible. It has now been revealed that Leclerc has not spoken to Binotto since Silverstone. The Monegasque is said to be still angry over a strategic blunder during that race.
It certainly seems that Leclerc is toeing the line publicly, but perhaps for how long?