Charles Leclerc quizzed on widespread criticism of Mattia Binotto and Ferrari

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc on the grid. Spa August 2022. Credit: Alamy
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc on the grid. Spa August 2022. Credit: Alamy

Charles Leclerc says Ferrari should not focus on the “negativity” that is circulating them as they look to bounce back from a disappointing 2022 season.

If you had told a Ferrari fan this time last year that they would win four races and be in P2 with just two races left, they would have snapped your hand off.

But, given their strong start and the performance level of F1-75, there has been a strong sense of disappointment as the campaign reaches its conclusion.

It is the manner in which Ferrari have fallen away from Red Bull and Max Verstappen that has been the largest source of pain. There is a valid argument to say Ferrari had the quickest car this season but it is the unreliability, strategy decisions and driver errors that have seen them drop off massively.

The team have also gained a reputation for shooting themselves in the foot with any mistake now greeted on social media with memes of another ‘Ferrari moment’.

That social media reaction has been growing ever stronger throughout the season but Leclerc has insisted he and the team pay no notice.

“I don’t pay attention to that,” he told Motorsport-Magazin.

“I’m sure there was a lot of negativity circulating at the time, but I don’t think we should focus on that. That doesn’t help us. We have to concentrate on ourselves.

“At a certain point you get used to it and you just have to move on, I don’t want to focus on what is being said externally.

“I just look at the team and make sure they know exactly what we need to work on.”

There has also been an increased focus on team principal Mattia Binotto with calls earlier in the season to replace him.

Leclerc said the team should not focus on that but instead on what they can do better in 2023.

“We shouldn’t focus on what’s going on externally,” the man who currently resides P3 in the Drivers’ Standings said. “When something goes wrong, people criticise, sometimes without any reason.

“F1 is a very complex sport and it’s very difficult to understand exactly what’s going on unless you are part of it. That’s why we shouldn’t let it drive us crazy.

“We have to be honest with each other internally and build on that.”

Leclerc is already looking forward to the next season saying he will “do everything to become 2023 World Champion.”

2023 will be a make-or-break year for Mattia Binotto

Of the 22 team principals to have sat in the hottest of Formula 1 hot seats at Ferrari, it is Binotto who has been faced with one of the toughest times.

Unlike some previous occupants of his role, Binotto has not been challenging and winning titles but instead, trying to awake the biggest of sleeping giants.

He took over in 2019 which, until 2022, was the last time the team had troubled the top of the table. It took until September 2019 for them to secure their first race victory, but there would be just two more before a 45-race streak of no wins which was broken in the opening grand prix of this year.

Binotto does have some good grace, helping to lead the team through one of its worst periods in their history before guiding them back to the top step of the podium, but recent achievements will only get you so far in the world of Formula 1, something that is no truer than at Ferrari.

In terms of 2023 targets, it remains a simple one for Binotto – win the World Championship and, while his job is safe for now, any more embarrassments and the the 23rd Ferrari team principal may soon be installed.

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