Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto has moved to clarify what went down after what appeared to be a heated chat between himself and Charles Leclerc after his star driver missed out on a British Grand Prix podium.
Ferrari won the race, with Carlos Sainz taking the chequered flag to stand on the top step of the podium for the first time in his Formula 1 career. Sergio Perez was comfortably second, while Lewis Hamilton scrapped with and beat Leclerc to the final podium spot in what was an epic race that had everything.
The Monegasque struggled in the latter stages of the race after his team chose not to bring him into the pits when the safety car was deployed. Ferrari appeared to have time to bring him in, but they didn’t and Sainz, Perez and Hamilton all changed to new soft tyres.
Leclerc was not able to compete on his used, hard rubber and missed out on the top three despite running in the podium places for the vast majority of the race. He sounded frustrated over team radio, and seemed similarly agitated when he climbed out of his car.
Sky Sports F1 cameras spotted the 24-year-old wearing an unimpressed look on his face as he was spoken to by Binotto. The Ferrari chief wore a stern expression as he spoke to Leclerc, giving the impression that the racer was being given a dressing down. “There’s Binotto saying ‘do not criticise the team’,” said Sky pundit Martin Brundle as he watched the footage. “That was a finger wagging.”
Despite possible tensions within the team, Binotto was keen to stress when speaking with Sky Sports that there is “nothing to sort out internally”. He said: “It was simply to tell him ‘I understand your disappointment, but you did a fantastic race today’.
Sky Sports F1)
“He was fighting at the start, and fighting later on when he was not on the softs. The way he was driving there, protecting the position, was amazing. So being happy is difficult, but staying calm and positive is important.”
And Leclerc was also keen to dispel any theories about an argument, as he claimed the Ferrari boss was just trying to cheer him up. “I had old hard tyres and everyone around me was on softs. I was struggling massively but I gave it my absolute best. It wasn’t enough and it’s obviously disappointing,” he said.
Asked if he felt a team debrief was needed over strategy decisions during the race, Leclerc added: “I only have the picture of my race. Sometimes, in the car, you don’t have the full picture. On my side, I felt I lost too much time, in the first stint especially. But this is only view and it might change once I see the full picture.”