F1 drama escalates with emerging Charles Leclerc feud

The F1 season's final few weeks have been filled with drama, as Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was revealed to be at odds with team boss Mattia Binotto. (Photo by Cristiano Andujar ATPImages/Getty images)
The F1 season's final few weeks have been filled with drama, as Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was revealed to be at odds with team boss Mattia Binotto. (Photo by Cristiano Andujar ATPImages/Getty images)

The 2022 F1 championship might be done and dusted, but the final fortnight of the season is revealing a surprising amount about the behind the scenes status of a handful of teams.

Red Bull is in the midst of a potential escalation of tension between drivers champion Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez heading into the season finale at Abu Dhabi, and it seems Ferrari is not immune from such concerns.

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Reports have emerged that star driver Charles Leclerc, who is tied for second in the championship with Perez, has been at loggerheads with team boss Mattia Binotto for some time.

Leclerc was leading the championship early in the season as it looks as though a championship bout between Ferrari and Red Bull would dominate the season, only for Verstappen to pull convincingly ahead.

Ferrari have been left to rue a series of strategic blunders that have cost them multiple opportunities for race wins, most glaringly their tactical bungles that essentially forfeited the Monaco GP to Perez.

The British GP was another flashpoint, with Binotto and Leclerc having words after the race following teammate Carlos Sainz's victory, which came at the former's expense due to a superior pitstop strategy.

Last weekend's Brazilian GP was the latest disaster for Ferrari, with Mercedes securing their first win of the season and Leclerc only managing fourth, with Sainz third behind George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

This week, Ferrari had to put out a statement reaffirming their commitment to Binotto as team boss, after Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport suggested he would be replaced by Alfa Romeo counterpart Frederick Vasseur.

It soon emerged through a report from French outlet L'equipe that Binotto and Leclerc have not been on speaking terms for some time, reportedly due to the public nature of Binotto's scolding of his star driver at Silverstone.

Lecelrc brushed of the incident at the time, saying Binotto was simply attempting to lift Leclerc's spirits after a positive result for the team.

“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.”

Ferrari dramas follow emerging F1 tension at Red Bull

Verstappen, who secured back to back world championships earlier in the season, refused to allow Perez to pass him on the final lap for sixth place in the Brazilian GP, with Red Bull's second driver vying for second place behind the Dutchman in the drivers standings.

Allowing his teammate past in Sao Paulo would have seen Perez claim a thin points lead over Ferrari's Charles Leclerc heading into the final round - however Verstappen's refusal means the two are even on points with one race to go.

When asked what happened by his race engineers after repeatedly ignoring clear instructions to let Perez by, Verstappen erupted.

“I told you already last time. You guys don’t ask that again to me, okay? Are we clear about that? I gave my reasons, and I stand by it," he said over team radio.

Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will have to work through tension that erupted at the Brazilian GP. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images)
Red Bull drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez will have to work through tension that erupted at the Brazilian GP. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

Fans quickly went into overdrive speculating about what Verstappen's 'reasons' could have been, particularly after he was asked whether or not Perez's crash during qualifying at Monaco had anything to do with it.

Perez had spun during Verstappen's final chance to take pole in Monaco, leaving Ferrari with a 1-2 on the starting grid before Perez eventually won the race the next day.

Sensationally, Perez has been accused of crashing deliberately in qualifying by the Dutch press, which has also claimed the Mexican driver admitted as much to senior Red Bull staff, including team boss Christian Horner.

Verstappen has since declared he will do whatever is required to aid Perez in his fight for second in the championship in Abu Dhabi, but maintained he stood by his decision not to allow his teammate past.

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