Charles Leclerc says he has always been a fan of Frederic Vasseur’s honesty and approach but that the call to replace Mattia Binotto as Ferrari team principal is “not my decision.”
Binotto resigned from the post last week after Ferrari failed to mount a sustained title challenge despite a very competitive car this season, with the news following Italian media reports prior to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that he would be replaced by Vasseur (pictured above, with Leclerc). The Alfa Romeo team principal worked with Leclerc during his rookie season when the team was known as Sauber, and Leclerc says he has strengths that he admires.
“Ferrari is a very different team to any other teams,” Leclerc said at the FIA Prize Giving Gala. “I can only comment on my experience with Fred, which obviously has been good. I’ve been working with Fred since the junior categories where he has believed in me and we’ve always had a good relationship. But apart from that — and obviously this shouldn’t influence any of the decisions — he has always been very straightforward, very honest, and this is something that I like from Fred. Whether it will be him or not, I don’t know, and we will see hopefully in the next few months.”
Leclerc says he was contacted by Binotto to inform him of his decision to leave, but doesn’t have a shortlist of candidates in mind despite his history with Vasseur.
“Mattia called me to announce that he would stop. I respect his decision and I can only thank him. Obviously he has believed in me right from the start, he extended me with a very long contract, and before being team principal he was inside the Scuderia for many years and he has contributed to the success that the team had in the past years. So I wish him the best and now it’s up to us to focus on the future, try and take the right choices to be a bit more of a challenge to Red Bull next year.
“It’s also not my decision (who replaces Binotto) — John (Elkann, Ferrari executive chairman) and Benedetto (Vigna, CEO) are going to take the decision. We are just trying to focus on our job on the simulator with the team in order to have the best race car possible for next year, but the decision will be done by them.”
This year’s drivers’ championship runner-up believes there is still potential for Ferrari to fight for the title next season despite the changes taking place within the team at present.
“This is the goal. We are all working towards that direction. Obviously the last few weeks have been a bit difficult for the team and we are in a transition time at the moment, but on that I have the full trust in Benedetto and John to take the right decision. I am sure that 2023 will be another step forward and hopefully get closer to the goal that we all want in the team, which is to be world champions.”