Ferrari boss denies No.1 drivers comments: ‘Don’t put Helmut Marko’s words in my mouth!’

Michelle Foster
Fred Vasseur congratulates Charles Leclerc. Azerbaijan April 2023

Fred Vasseur congratulates Charles Leclerc after his podium finish. Azerbaijan April 2023

Amidst speculation Carlos Sainz could head to Audi to avoid a wingman role, Fred Vasseur insists there is no number one driver at Ferrari as he doesn’t believe in it.

According to reports, Sainz is considering his options for when his Ferrari contract expires at the end of next season with speculation he could be off to Sauber, who’ll become Audi in 2026.

It has been suggested the Spaniard is keen to avoid the possibility of becoming his teammate Charles Leclerc’s number two if or when Ferrari get around to mounting a title challenge.

Fred Vasseur: I never said it, nor have I ever done it

Sainz has denied the rumours, repeatedly, his entourage saying he has a Plan A, B, and C and they are all “Ferrari” but to date, it’s only his teammate who has reportedly signed a new contract with Ferrari as Leclerc is said to have put pen to paper on a two-year extension.

As for Sainz, Vasseur was asked about retaining the Spaniard at a team that ‘seems to favour Charles over Carlos’ given his pre-season comments about focusing on only one driver.

The Frenchman denied saying anything of the sort.

“No, no, don’t put Helmut Marko’s words in my mouth!” he told Corriere dello Sport. “I never said it, nor have I ever done it.

“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 further up in the standings.

“However, we are not in these conditions today.”

Pressed to whether he’d make that call ‘even’ if it was Sainz who was the one leading Ferrari’s charge, Vasseur replied: “Your question assumes Charles is number one, but that’s not the case.

“I started this job twenty-five years ago thinking that two drivers should be given the same support, and I have no intention of changing.

“All the teams move in this way, with the exception of Red Bull with Verstappen and Perez.”

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Fred Vasseur’s ‘number one or number two’ statement from January

Speaking to the media back in January amidst speculation his past relationship with Leclerc could see the Monégasque driver handed number one status, Vasseur said he wouldn’t have a number one and two driver.

But, he added, if he had to put one ahead of the other to win the championship, he wouldn’t hesitate to “take action”.

“We have two very good drivers, both of them are able to do the job,” said Vasseur.

“We will have the capacity to provide them exactly the same car and the same structure and the same support. What is clear that the target is to win with Ferrari and for Ferrari.

“There will be no number one or number two.

“But if at one stage, we have to take action, I will take action.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s for one or the other, but if at one stage of the season I have to do something, I will do it.”

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