Toto Wolff confirms Charles Leclerc on Mercedes ‘long-term’ driver radar

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc celebrates pole. Baku April 2023.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc celebrate taking pole position in qualifying. Azerbaijan April 2023.

Toto Wolff has confirmed Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc is on his “radar” for a drive with Mercedes in the future, but “not for the short or medium term.”

A report from Italian journalist Leo Turrini last week claimed it was an “open secret” within the paddock that the Ferrari driver and Mercedes team principal have been in talks over a potential move in future, with his contract with the Scuderia expiring at the end of the 2024 season.

Both Leclerc and Wolff denied this was the case in Azerbaijan over the weekend, the Monégasque driver saying there was “zero” truth in the rumour he has been in talks with Mercedes recently, adding: “For now, I am fully focused on the project I am in today, which is Ferrari, and I fully trust and am confident for the future.

“Then we will see, but I am fully confident for the project of Ferrari.”

Lewis Hamilton’s current Mercedes contract is up at the end of 2023, with he and Wolff yet to confirm a new deal beyond the end of the year, but both driver and team have repeatedly said they are keen to extend their time together.

But when it comes to the Ferrari driver, the Mercedes team boss would not rule out a move for him in future.

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“The only time I talked with him is when we discussed where the gate is in Melbourne to board the plane,” Wolff told reporters in Baku when asked if he and Leclerc were in talks, as per BBC Sport.

“Charles is a super guy and for the long-term future someone you have to have on your radar but not for the short and medium term.”

Referring to Leclerc’s comments across the weekend that he remains fully committed to Ferrari and a move was “not something in my mind”, with another year to run on his current deal, Wolff reaffirmed his own intention to sign the seven-time World Champion to a new contract.

“Nobody doubts Charles’ ability and he is a good guy. He is 100 per cent committed to Ferrari and we are 100 per cent committed to putting pen to paper with Lewis.”

Leclerc took pole position for Ferrari for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and its sprint equivalent in both qualifying sessions at the weekend, taking the Scuderia’s first podium finish of the season in coming home third on Sunday, behind the Red Bulls of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.