Charles Leclerc quizzed on Mattia Binotto Ferrari exit rumours

Charles Leclerc at Abu Dhabi press conference. November 2022 Credit: Alamy
Charles Leclerc at Abu Dhabi press conference. November 2022 Credit: Alamy

Charles Leclerc shrugged off rumours about Mattia Binotto being replaced as Ferrari team principal at the end of the F1 2022 season.

In the build-up to the season finale in Abu Dhabi, Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Binotto is no longer going to be Scuderia boss heading into the 2023 campaign and Alfa Romeo’s Frederic Vasseur would be taking charge instead.

That was strongly denied by Ferrari saying La Gazzetta dello Sport’s report was ‘without foundation’.

However, now that particular seed has been planted, it did not take long on media day in Abu Dhabi for Leclerc to be asked about the rumour.

“Overall, there are always rumours around Formula 1, and especially around Ferrari,” Leclerc told selected media, including PlanetF1, at the FIA Drivers’ press conference.

“And this doesn’t change obviously, when we are getting to the end of the season. There’s always voices around us, but I think as a team, we really need to focus on our job and on track, try to extract all of the things that is happening around the team.

“People tend to forget how big of a step we’ve done from last year to this year.

“There’s definitely another step that we need to do but I am sure that we’ll do it all together.

“And starting with this race, hopefully to finish on a high this season. But apart from that, there’s nothing more to say I don’t think we should give too much attention to that.”

“Obviously this statement was made by the media. But again, they remain rumours. But also for the team itself, it’s not great to read these things.”

Later in the press conference, Leclerc was then pushed further by Sky Sports F1’s David Croft as to whether he felt a change was needed at the team and whether Ferrari were lacking stability.

“I think stability is paying off [already],” he replied.

“I mean, we’ve been showing in the last few years that we are improving. As I was saying earlier there’s another step that we need to do. But we are working on that and I’m sure we’ll achieve that.”

In matters away from Binotto and his future at Ferrari, Leclerc was asked whether he and Carlos Sainz have the pace at their disposal to finish the season on a high note.

“It’s been a bit up and down in the last few races,” he summarised.

“Brazil has been good but unfortunately, because of our first lap incident, it was all about coming back to the front but the base was there so I hope it will be strong enough to fight for for the top positions.

“Obviously we are fighting for the second place, in the Drivers’ Championship and also the second place in the Constructors’ Championship.

“And again, after going through very two very tough years in 2020 and 2021. it will be good to be back. Fighting at the top, even though our goal is to fight for the Championship in which eventually, after these two difficult years, it will be good to be second.”

Read more: Carlos Sainz highlights ‘a few’ intentional red-flag incidents from fellow F1 drivers

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