As Ferrari prepare to bid farewell to Mattia Binotto, the team bosses paying the price for a season littered with errors, Charles Leclerc says the Scuderia shouldn’t be bothered by other people’s criticism.
The tale of Ferrari’s 2022 decline has been examined in detail of late, the Scuderia getting off to a flying start with two wins in three races. That Leclerc was runner-up at the one he didn’t win, Saudi Arabia, just added to the hype with the Tifosi dreaming of a World title since 2007.
But then the steady decline began.
Whether it was strategy mistakes, reliability issues or a mistake with the floor in the wake of TD39, it was the perfect storm and one that sunk Ferrari’s title quest, the team finishing runner-up having only managed two additional wins the entire season.
Binotto’s words of “there is no reason why not to win 10 races” coming back to bite him as Ferrari didn’t even win one in the back half of the season.
The team boss paid the ultimate price, handing in his resignation because, as Stefano Domenicali put it, when “you are second with Ferrari, it is something that is not enough”.
Leclerc, however, feels Ferrari should stop listening to their naysayers.
“I don’t know,” he told Auto Motor und Sport when asked if Ferrari are criticised ‘too harshly’. “But I don’t care about that either.
“We shouldn’t care about what others think. Our job is to think about where we can improve. That’s pretty clear.
“We have to implement what’s in the car and what’s in us on race Sundays. We need to improve our performance and how we handle the races.
“Whether it’s more in the media than reality, I don’t know. But I’m not interested either.”
Instead, he says, Ferrari could be critical of their own performances, the team open and honest when discussing their failures.
“We are self-critical, and I am part of it,” he said. “I am very critical within the team. I’m not a driver who criticises harshly in public.
“But in internal meetings I push my team forward. That is my job. When I make mistakes, I speak up. If the team makes mistakes, that has to be on the table. I have to be allowed to say what I think.”
And Leclerc is always the first to hold up his hand when he does something wrong, the driver famously calling himself “stupid” when he crashed in qualifying for the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“That’s how I work, I admit when I’ve made mistakes,” he explained. “I don’t mind because everyone makes them.
“What’s wrong is when you want to hide your mistakes because then you don’t grow from them. As soon as I have made a mistake, I am confident that I will come out stronger.”
In this year’s Championship he made two notable errors, pushing too hard at Imola while chasing Sergio Perez for second rather than accepting third, and getting it horribly wrong in France when he crashed while leading.
That Sunday he chastised himself, saying his mistake was “unacceptable” and that if he keeps “doing those mistakes then it’s pointless to perform at a very high level”.
He says it’s simply a case of needing to be honest with himself and his team.
“A mistake can be unique,” he added. “That’s quite normal for me. I have always admitted my mistakes. I don’t think that’s bad.
“If the team makes a mistake, I tell them too. We are honest with each other. With this way of working, we grow together. So I don’t want to change my approach.”