Declaring Carlos Sainz is “ready to sign” an extension with Ferrari, reports in Italy claim the Scuderia’s “Leclerc-centric” approach could be causing the hold-up.
With both drivers entering the final year of their contracts in 2024, team boss Fred Vasseur said last year that while contract negotiations were on his list of tasks to complete, he was prioritising Ferrari’s on-track results.
That meant the 2023 season, a campaign in which Ferrari finished third in the Constructors’ Championship, came and went without any word on a new deal for either driver.
Complicated negotiations or no disagreements?
Just weeks ahead of the start of the 2024 season Ferrari would announce they’ve finalised Leclerc’s place within the team, the driver signing a deal for “beyond 2024”.
There was no word on his team-mate Sainz with the duration of his stay said to be the sticking point.
But according to Corriere dello Sport, the negotiations have become more “complicated” than that.
The Italian publication claims that in a Ferrari world that is “Leclerc-centric”, Sainz’s ambition to win a World title has caused a “bottleneck”.
Although team boss Vasseur was adamant last season his drivers were on equal footing, Corriere now claims “Vasseur has stiffened, taking the line of president [John] Elkann who wants a team with one striker, and this striker must be Leclerc”.
The report even went as far as to claim the 2024 Ferrari F1 car, the SF-24, “supports Charles’ driving style and will end up giving him more confidence” in the car.
And the matter of re-signing Sainz has also been muddied by the withdrawal of Estrella Galicia, “a sponsor worth 8-9 million a year” who have traditionally supported the Sainz family and signed with Ferrari on the behest of Sainz’s father Carlos Sainz Snr to “strengthen his son’s position”. They have left Ferrari for McLaren.
But in sharp contrast Mundo Deportivo insists there are “no problems or tensions” between Sainz and Ferrari, “nor any disagreements”, as “Ferrari is happy with Carlos and the Spaniard is equally happy with the red team”.
Claiming that reports of Sainz wanting a three-year or more contract from Ferrari are “not true”, it says the speculation about Sainz and Ferrari is nothing more than “silly season” chatter.
“In that sense,” reads the report, “the situation between Ferrari and Carlos is clear: there are no tensions, no fights, and no disagreements.”
Sainz himself has made that clear.
“You already know that I will always do my part, everything possible to continue in a team like Ferrari,” said the Spaniard.
“My priority, of course, is to continue at Ferrari. I don’t see any better place in F1 right now other than a team like Ferrari, which has the ambition to win again.
“I want to win another race as soon as possible and, if possible fight for a World Championship.
“And since we both share a goal, if on top of that that team is Ferrari, then I don’t see why not continue.”