New Scuderia Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur has pointed out that a contract renewal for Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc is “not the priority” for the Maranello team at this stage of the 2023 Formula One season.
On the other hand, the French manager is aware that improving performance should be the immediate focus of the entire team, while at the same time admitting that further down the road a new “wedding” between Ferrari and Charles Leclerc to extend the current deal of the Formula 1 driver is a matter they will sit down and discuss eventually.
Three years ago, Charles Leclerc was given a five-year contract by Scuderia Ferrari, which means that his current deal is available until the end of the 2024 Formula One championship. Given the difficult years Ferrari has been going through, there has been a lot of speculation about his future, with Mercedes believed to be interested in making a move for the Monegasque driver at the end of the next season.
When asked about the possibility of a new contract for Charles Leclerc, new Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur explained that “I don’t want to put this topic on the table today. It wouldn’t be a good way to start the collaboration. We have to be focused on the sporting side to get results. But it’s like a wedding – if both sides of the table are happy with the situation then we will continue. But it’s not the priority. We have a good relationship, and we will have time to discuss about this. The only topic today is we have to be focused on pure performance and get results.” – the French manager added.
Frederic Vasseur has also confirmed that Charles Leclerc will not start the 2023 Formula 1 championship with a status of lead driver: at least for the first half of the season, Carlos Sainz will have equal status and both drivers will be free to fight for the best possible results in the first races of the new Formula 1 campaign.
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The 54-year-old Frenchman feels the Maranello team has a strong line-up and believes in Carlos Sainz’s abilities, while also pointing out that he attempted to get him to join Renault when he was team principal in 2016, and again whilst he was in charge of the Alfa Romeo F1 team.
“When I was at Renault, I started a discussion with him and his management to attract him, and when I was at Sauber I tried to sign him again, without success. So I thought ‘Okay, if I want to attract Carlos, the best way is to join the team where he is’ [laughs]. No, no, we’ve always had a very good relationship. I trust him, and he’s shown the last couple of years he is a potential winner, which is very important for the team.” – New Scuderia Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur concluded.