The team principal of the Prancing Horse has admitted that in the tumultuous final stretch of the 2023 Formula 1 season, there wasn’t enough time to finalize the contract extensions for the two drivers expiring at the end of 2024. Fred has assured that the signatures for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will be secured before the new championship kicks off. A three-year deal is expected for Charles, and a two-year extension for the Spaniard, maintaining a very solid and cohesive partnership.
Fred Vasseur could have anticipated this, as during the Christmas lunch shared with Formula 1 journalists in the lounge set up by Ferrari at the Fiorano circuit for esteemed guests, especially the Spanish colleagues were persistent in trying to break the monotonous tone of the well-documented and well-argued narrative of the French manager.
The Spaniards pressed the accelerator to understand if Carlos Sainz would be granted a two-year renewal, contrary to the one-year contract predicted by some, continuing his partnership with Charles Leclerc, as the Monegasque is nearing the end of negotiations for a three-year deal that will make him the reference point for the Prancing Horse. The Madrilenian will have Ferrari’s trust and will have two championships plus 2024.
Do the renewals for the two drivers have the same duration in terms of contract years, or will there be different agreements for each of them?
“I remember perfectly that a year ago in this very room, I received many questions about the topic ‘Charles number one and Carlos number two in the team.’ We have shown on several occasions to ensure our drivers a more than equal treatment; I think Singapore was the best example.”
“Charles agreed to start the race with a set of soft tires to be able to overtake Russell and control him, all to help Carlos. We have two drivers doing a good job; Carlos was very strong after the summer break with two excellent weekends in a row at Monza and Singapore, and he was probably a stimulus for Charles, as we saw in the end of the season.”
“We will continue in this direction; I don’t want to have one good resource and another second-rate, we have two cars and two valuable drivers, and I think one of the positive aspects of the season has been the performance of Carlos and Charles. They practically ensured the team the same points, with a small difference, and we want to continue like this.”
And when will the signatures come?
“As you know, they are under contract with us until the end of 2024, which means we still have a few months ahead. Last year, Mercedes renewed the contract for 2024 for both of its drivers at the end of August; so, I believe we still have weeks and months ahead of us. A year ago, I told you that I would try to make a decision by the end of this year, but I must admit that the last part of the season has been very demanding. We have met and started discussions, but we are a bit behind the initial plan. I don’t consider it a problem at all; we will make a decision soon.”
Do you think the driver renewals will come before the start of the season?
“That could be the goal.”