Charles Leclerc no longer speaks to Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto, a report claims.
The team is in disarray following a disastrous Brazilian Grand Prix which was dominated by strategic errors and criticism of the underperforming team.
Watch Every Practice, Qualifying & Race of the 2022 FIA Formula One World Championship™ Live on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
The team on Wednesday was forced to release a statement to deny reports Binotto will be sacked at the end of the year.
On the same day it was reported in France that Leclerc does not speak to Binotto and has not for several months.
A bombshell report by L’Équipe claims the Monegasque driver has been disgruntled towards the team principal since the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July after he was publicly scolded by Binotto.
Leclerc spoke publicly about the moment, revealing Binotto had been “pissed off” that the 25-year-old had been so dejected after the race.
Leclerc had been leading the race until a late safety car triggered a flurry of pit stops. Leclerc was told to stay out on the track but the decision appeared to blow up in his face as he was overtaken by several cars in the final laps. To rub salt into the wound, teammate Carlos Sainz won the race having benefited from a late pit stop.
Leclerc finished fourth. Binotto was seen by cameras wagging his finger at Leclerc in the Formula 1 paddock behind the pit straight after the race.
“He was actually pissed off at me because I was too down, and so he was trying to cheer me up,” Leclerc said.
“Everybody was wondering why he was putting the finger like this, but I think he was just frustrated to see me so down after such a great race.”
Veteran Ferrari journalist Leo Turrini has also reported Leclerc and Binotto do not have a “fluid” relationship.
Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport has also claimed Binotto was going to pay the price for a series of strategic errors that saw the wheels come off the team’s world championship challenge.
The newspaper suggested Alfa Romeo’s French team principal Frederic Vasseur is being lined up to replace Binotto in 2023 from January 1.
Vasseur previously worked with Leclerc.
Such a dramatic move would potentially placate Leclerc with Turrini claiming the star driver “burns with rage” over the team’s latest drama in Brazil.
The team bungled its qualifying hopes when Leclerc was the only driver out of the 10 cars in Q3 to be on the track with wet weather tyres. The track had dried up from earlier rain.
Leclerc was also put under team orders not to overtake Sainz in the later stages of the race because the team had Fernando Alonso chasing behind them.
The team heads to the season finale at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix desperate to stop its recent tailspin.
Despite the rumours, Ferrari has publicly said it is standing by its under-fire boss.
A team statement on Wednesday said the reports of Binotto getting the axe were “totally without foundation”.
But Ferrari rejected the report outright in a post on social media. “In relation to speculation in certain media regarding Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto’s position, Ferrari states that these rumours are totally without foundation.”
Binotto has come under fire after a season in which the Italian Formula One giant’s quest to end a lengthy title famine began encouragingly only to falter in the second half of the year.
Numerous pitlane missteps damaged Charles Leclerc’s attempt to keep tabs with runaway world champion Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.
The man from Monaco goes into this weekend’s closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in a tussle for second place with Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez, the pair level on points.
Kimi Raikkonen delivered Ferrari’s last drivers’ crown in 2007, with the team winning their last constructors’ championship the following year.