Mika Hakkinen sceptical of Ferrari rumours surrounding Binotto and Leclerc

Henry Valantine
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto hugs Charles Leclerc after his victory in Bahrain. Sakhir March 2022.

Mika Hakkinen has cast doubt on claims Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc had fallen out with outgoing team principal Mattia Binotto, as a reason behind his departure from the team.

Ferrari announced Binotto had resigned from his role as team boss on Tuesday after a season in which the Scuderia improved on the performance of previous seasons, but ultimately fell well short of title glory in a car which picked up 12 pole positions in the 22-race season, converting only four of their poles into victories.

Tensions have been raised at times on both sides of the garage, particularly when errors on strategy combined with reliability issues mid-season to help enable Max Verstappen to turn his points tally into an unassailable advantage.

Binotto had been under pressure as a result of the near-misses Ferrari had this season, with the F1-75 proving to be at least a match for Red Bull’s RB18 at most circuits this season.

When presented with the possibility that the Ferrari driver may have fallen out with his soon-to-be-former team boss by Sky Sports, Hakkinen explained why he does not think that theory holds water.

“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I always thought when I was in motor racing in Formula 1, it’s not a question about if you don’t like somebody, it’s a question [of] how good they are, how committed they are, how intelligent, how clever they are. That’s what matters.

“It doesn’t matter [if] you like them or not. That’s nothing to do with your success. You know, you have to work in a team.

“You have to respect the people’s talent, the knowledge, the commitment of the sport. So, I don’t know. I doubt it’s the true story.”

Both Leclerc and Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz posted messages of thanks on social media following the news of Binotto’s resignation, with the team principal set to leave his role at the end of the year.

“Thank you for everything, Mattia,” Leclerc wrote on Instagram.

“We have spent four very intense years together, of great satisfaction and also, inevitably, of moments that have challenged us.

“My esteem and respect for you have never waned, and we have always worked with full dedication to achieve the same goals.

“Good luck with everything.”

In their statement announcing Binotto’s departure, Ferrari confirmed their process for identifying their new team principal is underway.

Read more: Who could replace Mattia Binotto at Ferrari? Ranking the nine remaining F1 team bosses