Charles Leclerc addresses Mattia Binotto departure rumours

Red Bull all but have the titles in the bag in 2022, following a slew of mistakes by Ferrari.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has called for the team to keep their eye on the ball amid calls for changes to its leadership.

The Scuderia started the season emphatically as Leclerc won two of the opening three rounds in Bahrain and Australia.

It was a poor start for Red Bull, who suffered a double retirement in the opening round, before Max Verstappen won in Jeddah, and ended up out of the Australian Grand Prix due to another issue.

The Dutchman bemoaned after the race at Albert Park that he was “miles behind” Leclerc, who went into the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix over 40 points ahead.

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However, the Austrian team have come out swinging since the third round of the year, with Verstappen and Sergio Perez winning another 10 races between them.

Nine of those have gone to the reigning champion, who leads Leclerc and Perez by 109 points in the Drivers’ Standings.

Reliability failures, one or two driver errors but, perhaps more prominently, silly strategic mistakes on the pit wall, have been costing Leclerc and Carlos Sainz all year.

As a team, they have haemorrhaged easily more than 100 points off the back of some ghastly misfortune, some of which the team have brought upon themselves.

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It has led to a complete lack of confidence, evidenced by indecision as to the Monegasque’s strategy in Spa, before a late call to box Sainz in Zandvoort led to chaotic confusion.

An unsafe release compounded the Spaniard’s day as he wound up eighth with Leclerc in third at the Dutch Grand Prix, while Verstappen won the race.

While Perez is trying hard to get to grips with an ever-changing RB18, he is still picking up solid points alongside his Dutch team-mate, and the Milton Keynes-based team now lead Ferrari by 135 points in the Constructors’ Standings.

It has led to calls, most recently from Nico Rosberg, for chairman, John Elkann to replace team principal Mattia Binotto.

The Italian very much comes from an engineering background, and not a corporate one, so he has done his best to adapt to a role he was rather forced into after the departure of Maurizio Arrivabene in 2018.

Despite the unwanted external noises, Leclerc called for focus ahead of Ferrari’s home race in Monza this weekend.

“There are always rumours around a Formula 1 team and especially with Ferrari but I think what is important in those moments is not to get distracted with whatever is being said,” he explained in Thursday’s press conference.

“We are very united as a team and I think we need to keep on going like this, we’ve shown that we’ve been great from last year to this year with this kind of performance and we need to keep going in that direction.

“I didn’t hear that rumour in particular but obviously we have to focus on our own job.”

Due to the Red Bull car’s adeptness in a straight line, the 24-year-old predicted that this will be a tough event for the Scuderia.

“I think it’s going to be a bit of a difficult weekend, on paper, at least, it’s going to be a difficult weekend,” added Leclerc.

READ: Is Ferrari cursing itself for 2022 Italian Grand Prix?

“We expect Red Bull to be stronger, the track characteristics don’t exactly fit our car.

“But again, we’ve had some good and bad surprises this year, so hopefully this one is one of the good ones and that we overperform compared to what we expect.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Leclerc and Sainz took a one-two in first practice in Italy on Friday, before Sainz set the fastest lap ahead of Verstappen in the second hour.