Charles Leclerc refused to give too much away when quizzed on the immediate future of Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto ahead of this weekend’s final race in Abu Dhabi. The 53-year-old’s position at the Italian outfit has been called into question over the course of this season as a result of the poor strategy calls that have plagued their efforts to rival Red Bull for Grand Prix victories since the beginning of the campaign.
Recent reports have suggested that Binotto will be replaced by Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur in the not-too-distant future, with the latter said to have been lined up to take over before the 2023 season gets underway. Leclerc kept his cards close to his chest when asked for his view on the situation in Thursday’s press conference, though, as he told reporters: “There are always rumours surrounding Ferrari, we just have to focus on the job.
“I think people tend to forget where we come from, but we just have to look at the work and not pay attention to the rumours. As for performance, we’ve come from ups and downs. An accident in Brazil, but the pace was good.
“After two difficult years, we hope to finish and fight for victory again, even if we think about the 2023 championship. Stability has paid off, we are improving and will grow further.”
JUST IN: Charles Leclerc and Mattia Binotto ‘no longer speak’ after fall out
Ferrari initially looked set to challenge Red Bull for the Constructors’ Championship title at the start of this year, with Leclerc winning two of the opening three Grands Prix in Bahrain and Australia to put down a marker for the historic Maranello-based team. However, a series of driver errors and naive judgement calls from the pit wall ultimately saw Ferrari drop out of contention and Binotto has shouldered much of the blame for their shortcomings over the last few months.
Reports from Italy last week claimed that Ferrari had been looking to replace Binotto for quite some time before settling on Vasseur as their preferred candidate for the role of team principal from next year onwards. However, they quickly moved to play down the uncertainty over Binotto’s future in response to the speculation by releasing a brief statement, which read: “In relation to speculation in certain media regarding Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto’s position, Ferrari states that these rumours are totally without foundation.”
Vasseur, meanwhile, is widely regarded as one of the most talented bosses in the F1 paddock and has gained a formidable reputation since taking his first team principal role with Renault, now known as Alpine, back in 2016. He went on to leave the French outfit just a year later following a disagreement with managing director Cyril Abiteboul before moving to Alfa Romeo, who have established themselves as one of the strongest midfield contenders on the grid under the 54-year-old’s guidance over the last few seasons.
It remains to be seen whether Ferrari will be able to mount a sustained challenge for next season’s Constructors’ Championship title if Vasseur replaces Binotto before the 2023 campaign begins, with Red Bull likely to go in as the overwhelming favourites once again. Only time will tell if Ferrari’s decision to get rid of Binotto will eventually pay off, though, as they look to clinch the end-of-season honours for the first time since 2008 at the next time of asking.
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