Ferrari Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc has admitted he has found it difficult to focus on racing at the 2022 Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix amid rumors swirling about team principal Mattia Binotto’s future on the rice field.
Italian media reported that Mattia Binotto would take the blame and resign after a disappointing season at Scuderia Ferrari full of mistakes, accidents and technical failures.
Ferrari denied the speculation at the time, but it was revealed on Friday (25 November) that Mattia Binotto had handed in his resignation to Ferrari chairman John Elkann.
And on Tuesday 29 November, Ferrari issued a statement confirming that his resignation had been accepted and that Mattia Binotto will leave Maranello at the end of December. The team is currently looking for a replacement, which is expected to be announced in 2023.
“It was very difficult coming into the weekend (in Abu Dhabi),” admitted Charles Leclerc.
“There was a lot of pressure from outside and a lot of rumors going around the team. It’s always very difficult to concentrate on the work with all that reasoning.”
“But we did perfectly and I’m very proud of the team.”
Despite the consolation of securing second place in the final, Charles Leclerc also spoke about his feelings about the team’s form collapsing in the middle of the season.
“It’s a step back and an incredible step forward considering how far we were from last year,” said Leclerc.
“But of course we can’t ignore a very frustrating mid-term.”
“We were leading the championship in many points and then we were behind in many points. That was the frustrating part of the season.”
Max Verstappen’s 2022 title was decided in Japan in October, but Charles Leclerc was still fighting to keep second place in the drivers’ standings in the quarter-finals.
Charles Leclerc entered Abu Dhabi on the same points as his Red Bull rival, Sergio Perez, but managed to beat Perez to finish second.
‘Substitute’ is often looked down upon as ‘first loser’, but it meant more to Charles Leclerc.
“I think it means a lot as a team,” insisted Charles Leclerc.
“Given how hard we struggled in 2020 and 2021, to finish second in the Constructors’ Championship at the end means a lot.”
Charles Leclerc is determined to close the doors in 2022 and is excited to see what Ferrari can achieve in 2023.
“We don’t want to stop here,” said Leclerc.
“Second place is a good result, but we are all fighting to get first place as soon as possible.”
“It was a good move, but obviously it’s been a frustrating year for the reasons we know.”
“We will all be working hard over the winter break to take the next step and beat Red Bull.”
“We have to accept all the mistakes we made this year and try to improve for next year.”
“We’ve really made some progress in terms of strategy and how decisions are made over the last few races.”
However, with the departure of Mattia Binotto, it is not yet clear who will take over as Ferrari team principal.
Reports over the weekend suggested that Charles Leclerc was unhappy with Mattia Binotto’s ‘no fault’ approach to leading a team and that he would consider moving to another team, possibly Mercedes, if things did not change.
Charles Leclerc’s current contract with Ferrari has been extended until 2024, but it is very unclear if he will stay beyond that.
Italy’s Formulapassion.it suggests that Charles Leclerc is likely to remain team leader if current Alfa Romeo team boss Frédéric Vasseur takes over at Maranello.
Frédéric Vasseur and Charles Leclerc have had a strong relationship since making their F1 debut for the then Sauber team in 2018. If Vasseur takes over, it is likely that Leclerc will become the team’s main driver at the expense of current teammate Carlos Sainz.
“I’ve been in F1 for a long time now, but it’s important to know the details and be at 100% as often as possible,” said Leclerc.
“Next year I’m going to concentrate here and aim for 100%. And I’m sure whenever I’m at 100% I’m very good.”
Category: F1 / Charles Leclerc / Ferrari