Charles Leclerc will have to wait for a new Ferrari contract after his new boss made it clear a new deal for the Monegasque is “not the priority”.
Leclerc’s current contract runs until the end of the 2024 campaign, having caused a bit of a stir when he signed that five-year deal at the end of 2019. While contracts of such length are common in football, F1 terms tend to run over shorter periods – though Max Verstappen’s Red Bull extension until 2028, penned last year, is a notable exception.
With less than two years left to run on his deal, Ferrari fans may start to get a little nervous over Leclerc’s future. Recent speculation linking him with a future move to Mercedes will also not calm the nerves of the Tifosi.
Even so, new team principal Frederic Vasseur appears unconcerned about the situation. The Frenchman has a lengthy to-do list having only been in the job for a few weeks, and so talks over a new deal for Leclerc are on hold for now.
“I don’t want to put this topic on the table today. It wouldn’t be a good way to start the collaboration,” Vasseur said. “We have to be focused on the sporting side to get results. He did, however, go on to hint that talks will take place at some point.
“But it’s like a wedding – if both sides of the table are happy with the situation then we will continue. But it’s not the priority. We have a good relationship, and we will have time to discuss about this. The only topic today is we have to be focused on pure performance and get results.”
Ferrari have long seen Leclerc as the future of the team and have, to an extent, planned their future around him. Still aged only 25, the Monegasque has the lion’s share of his F1 career still ahead of him – while also boasting a significant amount of experience in the sport.
While there is little doubting his commitment to Ferrari, Leclerc will want to be reassured that the team can give him a more stable platform from which to launch a title challenge than has previously been the case. If, by 2024, he feels his title prospects would be better elsewhere, he may be tempted to leave.
Leclerc and Vasseur have a good relationship already, having worked together previously at Alfa Romeo and also in junior single-seater series. That bond has sparked suggestions Carlos Sainz may suffer if the new chief shows favouritism, but Vasseur has already made it clear there will be no number one driver.
And of the Spaniard, he also said: “When I was at Renault, I started a discussion with [Sainz] and his management to attract him, and when I was at Sauber I tried to sign him again, without success… I trust him, and he’s shown the last couple of years he is a potential winner, which is very important for the team.”