Formula 1: Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc denies holding talks with Mercedes 

Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc has denied reports claiming he will replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc has dismissed reports linking him to Mercedes
Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc has dismissed reports linking him to Mercedes

(Football news) Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has denied reports linking him to Formula 1 team Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton’s replacement. The seven time world champion’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season and he is yet to agree on an extension, despite it being described as a ‘formality’ by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. Reports in Italy have claimed that it was “an open secret” that Leclerc was speaking to Mercedes after a frustrating season with Ferrari so far. However, the Monegasque driver has insisted that no such talks have taken place.

Speaking to the media ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc said “No, not yet. Not for the moment. 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 in the project of Ferrari. I’m fully committed to Ferrari and I love Ferrari. It has always been a dream for me to be in this team and my main priority is to win a world championship with this team. So it’s not something in my mind.”

Asked directly if he had had a call from Wolff, Leclerc said: “No. Zero. Zero. Really zero. You all smile because you don’t believe me, but I promise. No, not really, I think maybe some of the drivers all have different relationships with different bosses and stuff. I like where I am, I love my team, and I’m grateful for the journey we’ve been on and what we’re working on moving forwards. So, it doesn’t have any impact, no.”

It has been Leclerc’s worst start to a season in recent years, picking up just six points while Ferrari are fourth in the Constructors Championship, 97 points behind Red Bull Racing. There have also been changes in Ferrari’s senior staff with head of vehicle concept David Sanchez leaving for McLaren while sporting director Laurent Mekies going to AlphaTauri. However Leclerc has expressed his confidence in new team principal Frederic Vasseur.

He said “Well, let’s be honest, if we are speaking on track first of all the performance is not where we want it to be in the first part of the season. The first three races for me were a disaster. But these three weeks I think it was good to reset, to look a little bit at the things where we can optimise the package that we have. We have been working on that. Then off track, of course, there is a restructuring for the team and that’s clear. 

“We had a really good relationship with Laurent, but we all understand in the team that this opportunity is right to take, as it’s a really good opportunity for Laurent. So it’s like this. But the team is more than one person. And yeah, I’m very confident for the future with Fred having what he has in mind. I’m really confident. I think he has been open with what he wants to achieve and the way he wants to achieve it. This gives me confidence, probably more than ever. So as much as obviously it’s moving, I’m confident for the future.”

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur said that he understands Leclerc’s frustrations but remains optimistic about the future. He said “Charles is an important pillar of the performance, and he has to play the role in the car, outside of the car, to be a performance contributor and he’s fully supportive on this part of the job. I’m really convinced it is also a personal commitment from him. 

“He’s clearly part of the project, he’s not a spectator of this, he is involved in the development of the team, he is part of the development because he is developing himself. He is a performance contributor on track and off the track, and as long as he plays this role we are on a good path.

“It’s true in every single team that you are always building a team around the driver. If you have a look over the last 20 years, or even more, all the successful stories in F1 took time, but it was always a team building up around a driver. It was true with Lewis at Mercedes, it was true with Michael (Schumacher) at Ferrari, it was true with (Fernando) Alonso at Renault it was true everywhere, and Red Bull, you can find tons of examples.”

Also read: Formula 1: Laurent Mekies leaves Scuderia Ferrari to join AlphaTauri as team principal 


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