Ferrari provide contract updates on both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz

Jamie Woodhouse
Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in the rain at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc in the rain.

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur has left the door open to both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz remaining with the team beyond 2024, but they should not expect confirmation anytime soon.

The F1 2023 campaign has fallen far below the expectations of Ferrari, with their hopes of challenging for title glory instead turning into a battle with Mercedes, Aston Martin and McLaren to be called ‘best of the rest’ behind a Red Bull team well out of reach at the front.

Ferrari have scored just two podium finishes so far this season, Leclerc accounting for both of those.

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz contract talks on hold

But, with speculation swirling about the Ferrari futures of both drivers, Vasseur is very much open to the prospect of them both signing fresh deals.

That being said, he has made it clear to his drivers that such talks will only begin when the F1 2023 campaign is nearing its end.

Asked by Corriere dello Sport if both Leclerc and Sainz could stay at Ferrari beyond 2024, Vasseur replied: “Why not? But we will start talking towards the end of the season and they both know it well: I told them as soon as I arrived. Today the only priority is to develop the car.”

It was then put to Vasseur that there are signs of Ferrari leaning towards Leclerc with the bulk of their support, Sainz having for example said the team made him look like a “fool” with team orders back at the Austria round.

It was also suggested to Vasseur that he has said previously that a title challenge requires backing one driver.

Vasseur though firmly hit back against that with a reference to Red Bull, saying those are the words of their driver programme boss Helmut Marko being put into his mouth.

“No no, don’t put words from Helmut Marko into my mouth! I have never said that, nor have I ever done that,” Vasseur insisted.

“I’m just saying that if you want to aim for the Drivers’ World Championship, at a certain point in the season you have to make a choice and favour those who are ahead in the standings. However, we are not in these conditions today.”

Asked if Leclerc would be willing to play that team game if Sainz was the one ahead and chasing the title for example, Vasseur again turned to a Red Bull reference, saying they are the only team who do not give their drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez equal status.

“Your question assumes that Charles is number one, but that is not the case,” Vasseur affirmed.

“I started this job twenty-five years ago thinking that two drivers should be given equal support, and I have no intention of changing. All the teams do it this way, with the exception of Red Bull with Verstappen and Perez.” recommends

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No timeframe on Ferrari return to title scene

Of course, for this situation to actually play out, Ferrari must finally overcome that long-standing hurdle of putting together a push for title success.

Not since 2008 when the team lifted the Constructors’ title have Ferrari tasted such Championship glory.

Leclerc and Sainz are likely going to be placing a great deal of emphasis on Ferrari’s title prospects when it comes to the decisions on their respective futures, but Vasseur cannot offer them a year for when Ferrari will be back fighting for the top prizes in Formula 1.

“We can’t talk about targets and deadlines, except to say: we have to develop all those little things that contribute to the performance of the car,” said Vasseur.

“The fans, the journalists, the sponsors would like to know when we will return to winning: to give a precise answer would be silly. I’d be wasting my time if I were to lapse into thinking about where Red Bull is and where we are. Let’s just concentrate on ourselves.”

Ferrari find themselves P4 in the current Constructors’ Championship, already a resounding 285 points behind runaway leaders Red Bull.

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