Was a personal conflict with Leclerc behind Binotto’s exit?

Two-time F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen says he doubts that a rumoured conflict between Charles Leclerc and Mattia Binotto led to the latter’s exit. 
(L to R): Charles Leclerc (MON)
(L to R): Charles Leclerc (MON)

Ferrari announced earlier this week they had accepted Binotto’s resignation as team principal after nearly four years in charge of F1’s most famous team. 

It came after Ferrari’s failed bid to end their long wait for F1 silverware in a season littered by poor reliability, strategic errors and driver mistakes that accelerated their defeat to rivals Red Bull and Max Verstappen

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There was speculation that Leclerc’s camp had been pushing for Binotto’s departure from Ferrari after the pair reportedly fell out as the Monegasque’s hopes of a maiden championship faded. 

But Hakkinen, who won the 1998 and 1999 F1 world titles with McLaren, said he does not believe there is any truth to the rumours. 

"I don't know about that," Hakkinen told Sky Sports News. "I always thought when I was racing, it's not a question about whether you 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 whether you like them or not. That doesn't interfere with your success.

"You have to work in a team, you have to respect the people's talent, knowledge, their commitment to the sport, so I doubt it's a true story.

Mika Hakkinen (FIN) with Frederic Vasseur (FRA) Alfa Romeo F1 Team Team Principal. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 14,
Mika Hakkinen (FIN) with Frederic Vasseur (FRA) Alfa Romeo F1 Team Team…

"It's very sad, I think he [Binotto] is a great personality, a great guy.

"Formula 1 is a very complicated sport, it requires three, four extremely talented people to run the team, to make a success. It's not just one man or one woman who can run the team.

"It requires a number of individuals - different characters, different talents to be able to add and contribute to the team's success.”

Leclerc thanked Binotto in a social media post on the same day the Italian’s exit from Ferrari was confirmed. 

“Thanks for everything, Mattia,” he wrote. “We spent four very intense years together, of great satisfaction and also, inevitably, of moments that put us to the test. 

“My esteem and respect for you have never failed, and we have always worked with all the dedication to achieve the same goals. Good luck for everything.”

Current Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur has been tipped to replace Binotto for F1 2023

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