Charles Leclerc, Sauber, Paul Ricard, 2018

Leclerc dismisses rumour of Ferrari drive at Belgian GP

RaceFans Round-up

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In the round-up: Charles Leclerc says he will not be distracted by growing rumours linking him to a move to a Ferrari Formula 1 seat, potentially as early as the Belgian Grand Prix in August.

What they say

Yesterday Leclerc was asked about a rumour Ferrari is considering moving Kimi Raikkonen aside to make way for him after the summer break. There have even been claimed this would involve a straight swap which would see the 2007 world champion complete the season with Sauber.

Leclerc said he isn’t dwelling on a potential move to Ferrari this year or later:

I am really just focusing and I’m trying to take that off my mind and really try to focus on what I am doing now. As I said in the past I don’t think it’s good – I’m repeating myself every week, unfortunate, I wish I could do something more.

But I need to focus on this year. It’s not good for me if I’m focusing on what could possibly happen. So for now I’m just trying to do the best job possible in the car.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Daniel Ricciardo looks set to stay at Red Bull, which is a disappointment for Phil:

I think 2019 will definitely be a development year at Red Bull and who knows what will happen after. It’s quite likely that Red Bull will not win a race next year and maybe even in 2020.

I can understand the Mercedes and Ferrari decisions, perhaps Mercedes’ more than Ferrari. They always seem to have a slight edge on Ferrari so why upset the apple cart by replacing Bottas? He’s very good but not exceptional.

Raikkonen is definitely well past his best so it really would be a breath of fresh air for him to be replaced by someone younger and faster. They are never going to win a constructors’ title with Raikkonen there but Ricciardo would give them a much better chance. Why don’t they take a risk and have two really top-notch, fast drivers up against each other. It would really be exciting for F1. Maybe they just don’t care about the onstructors’ title.

Even if Leclerc moves to Ferrari in 2019 we are still likely to end up with the number one, number two scenario as long a Vettel is competitive and challenging for the drivers’ championship.
Phil Norman (@Phil-f1-21)

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 54 comments on “Leclerc dismisses rumour of Ferrari drive at Belgian GP”

    1. @COTD as much as I’d prefer the rematch between the two, the prospect of having LeClerc there is better and more promising.

      LEC on the block is a fine addition to the dispute. RIC at RedBull isn’t the end of the world.

    2. I’m pretty gutted Ricciardo won’t be going to Ferrari. Ferrari need a strong championship contender and Vettel keeps throwing it away at crucial moments, unacceptable for a 4x world champion competing for a fifth. Racing against others the pressure has now got to him and he doesn’t deal with it well enough.

      I understand Ferrari don’t want Ricciardo because he’s asking for too much money. I’d have thought Ferrari could justify spending this based on how good the publicity would be if they win. Not to mention Ricciardo’s personality, he’s part Italian, and I believe is a fluent speaker (I don’t know if Vettel can say more than ‘Grazie ragazzi’).

      Leclerc has impressed us but has so little experience! We hardly had a chance to see how his racecraft is in F1. My humble opinion is Ferrari should get Ricciardo in the car next year and then when Vettel’s contract is up replace him with leclerc if he proves to be as good as we think he is

      1. There is no way Vettel would let Ricciardo in. Money has nothing to do with this. Ricciardo already forced Vettel out of a team once. He won’t let that happen again. Vettel’s greatest strengths don’t necessarily lie on the track and his contract I am sure is like Schumacher who would never let anyone with talent near his team. Ricciardo’s only step up was Mercedes and barring that will be at Red Bull. I don’t think Hamilton fears anyone.

        1. Yeah, RIC “forced Vettel out” of Red Bull, because like, who would ever want to drive for Ferrari, especially when Red Bull had access to the dominant Renault, err “Tag Heuer” power unit.

        2. @darryn, there is a question of whether Vettel was pushing quite as hard at Red Bull as he could have done given that he already had a contract with Ferrari lined up by that point.

          If anything, it might have helped him if he underperformed slightly as it then made it easier for him to get out of his contract at Red Bull – something that Red Bull’s senior management have alluded to when mentioning that some of the clauses that Vettel managed to get into his contract have not been included in any of their subsequent driver contracts.

          Whilst it is true that Ferrari’s structure has, more commonly than not, been a case of having a lead driver and a second driver, they have sometimes hired a stronger second driver if they think that the lead driver is not performing as well as he can do. Ironically, that was the role that Kimi was meant to do when he was hired, since it seems that Alonso wasn’t keen on having him as a team mate but got him anyway – even though the impression since then is that he’s been a bit of a walkover for both of his team mates since then.

          Jamie-er, as an aside, I believe that Vettel can speak Italian much better than you give him credit for – I have seen footage of him answering questions in Italian for an Italian TV network (possibly Sky Italia). I do not believe he is fluent, but he does seem to have a reasonably good knowledge of Italian.

      2. I have the same thoughts about Ricciardo but he is in the position to make the decision better than most. Lets wait and see. I can’t see the Honda powered RB taking up the challenge against Ferrari/Merc any more than the Renault RB combo can at the moment. Actually after Merc and Ferrari I would have thought Renault would have been a chance. If he does go with RB it may only be a 12 month contract.

      3. I am convinced that while money might play a role, that is not really the reason why they would not take Daniel Ricciardo. When has Ferrari last had to worry about constructors championships? They already get enough money from the side deals.

        For them it is important to keep everything working for their no1 driver, Seb Vettel. Kimi doesn’t complain or make a big fuss everytime they sort of ignore him on track, change his strategy to suit Seb better to the detriment of his own finishing position or make him give up a spot for the other car.

        Daniel would certainly not be up for that. And it would upset the running of team.

      4. It is a bit of a shame that Ferrari aren’t interested in getting Ricciardo on board. It would be great to see him finally mount a proper championship challenge. But I have to agree with @darryn … the money is the last thing that matters to Ferrari.. in fact.. it doesn’t matter all that much to Ricciardo either.

        I think Ricciardo wouldn’t get the drive for two reasons – Firstly, it’s Ferrari’s philosophy to support only one driver for the championship. Secondly, Seb would 100% try to block his move and avoid a really competitive driver in that 2nd seat.

        The decision might come back to bite Ferrari though.. if Vettel fails to win the title this year.

        1. @todfod

          Seb would 100% try to block his move and avoid a really competitive driver in that 2nd seat

          Seb has no say in Ferrari’s drivers line up. It’s almost certain that Raikkonen will be replaced by either Ric or Leclerc. I highly doubt that in Ferrari Ric will beat Vettel the way he did in 2014 for many reasons… Vettel is smart enough to realize that , from a sporting standpoint, that being beaten by Leclerc even for few races/qualy sessions is far more embarrassing than being beaten by Ricciardo in the whole year. Hamilton and Vettel have already spotted how Leclerc is blindly fast.

          1. @tifoso1989

            It’s not just Seb, even Fernando and Michael had a lot of influence in deciding the driver to take that #2 seat. It’s just always been Ferrari’s way of doing things. They want to keep the #1 driver happy. The only exception to the rule was when they had Kimi and Felipe as drivers. That’s when the situation seemed pretty even. They favoured Kimi in 2007 and Felipe in 2008.

            Regarding whether Seb will beat Ricciardo.. it’s a big question mark in my opinion. We won’t know unless they race for the same team on equal terms. As for Leclerc, I’m pretty sure Seb will welcome him in that 2nd seat because Ferrari know Leclerc will be more compliant in his first season for Scuderia than Ricciardo will.

            1. Regarding whether Seb will beat Ricciardo.. it’s a big question mark in my opinion. We won’t know unless they race for the same team on equal terms

              2014:- Ricciardo 238
              :- Vettel 167
              Both in RedBulls.

              Ferrari know Leclerc will be more compliant in his first season for Scuderia than Ricciardo will.

              You mean subservient?

            2. @johnrkh

              I know the 2014 stats ;) . I in fact believe that Ricciardo will beat him based on past record. But it’s a little different now in 2018.. so we’ll need to see them race each other again to see if history can repeat itself.

              You mean subservient?

              Yep. I expect him to be a little grateful for the drive in his first season at least.

            3. @todfod

              It’s not just Seb, even Fernando and Michael had a lot of influence in deciding the driver to take that #2 seat

              That’s one of the main reasons that pushed Fernando out of Ferrari. He wasn’t already in favor of hiring Raikkonen despite the privileged position he has inside the team and how much respect he got from Di Montezemolo himself. Di Montezemolo said that hiring Raikkonen reminded him of how he hired Reutmeman despite Lauda’s refusal. Niki was one of his favorite drivers.
              After the death of Emilio Botin and the firing of Luca Di Montezemolo (by Marchionne) in the same week Alonso’s influence in many areas in Ferrari was almost zero.
              Even Arrivabene don’t have a say with Marchionne in critical Ferrari’s affairs (drivers line up, contract negotiation with FOM, …).

            4. That’s one of the main reasons that pushed Fernando out of Ferrari. He wasn’t already in favor of hiring Raikkonen despite the privileged position he has inside the team and how much respect he got from Di Montezemolo himself.


              I think the main reason they kicked him out was because he publicly slated Ferrari on many occasions, and went as far as saying he rather drive for Red Bull. This is the exact same reason they let go of Prost after the 1991 season. I think got Kimi onboard to destabilise Alonso within the team, but little did they know he’d smash Kimi convincingly.

              Fernando had vouched for Massa in that 2nd seat the exact way Seb is now supporting Kimi for that seat. It’s the privilege that the Ferrari #1 driver has always enjoyed as long as the big boss is happy with them. But you’re right, it’s Marchionne decides who drives for them. My point is that if Marchionne isn’t too happy with Seb, that’ when he’ll bring in another top tier driver in that 2nd seat.

      5. Italy is no strange country for Vettel, since he was young he competed in many Karting races there and was frequently visiting Italy. He also spent a year and a half with Torro Rosso before joining RBR. I remember when he was asked the same question when he first joined Ferrari, he said that he already understands Italian perfectly but could not speak fluently. Starting from 2016, he was already comfortable with the Italian media. He has already lived in Italy for more than 4 years, that’s more than enough for any top athlete who takes extensive language courses on regular basis.

    3. I hadn’t heard that ridiculous rumour of Charles and Kimi doing a driver swap come August. Lol, as if.

      1. Yeah, same here @robbie, no way that should or will happen.

      2. I don’t even think Ferrari will promote him straight to the top team. Maybe a year at Haas.

        We all know that drivers need a few years of experience under their belt; just think about Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen.
        It won’t hurt Ferrari that much compared to their current number 2, but it might be too much pressure for their young star.

        The only reason to promote Leclerc early would be to help him chase the youngest pole sitter record. But I don’t think Ferrari is a team that would make a move just for that reason.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          29th June 2018, 9:30

          I think this too. It was just luck that Verstappen happened to be ready to move up like he did. Kvyat wasn’t really. It isn’t going to be often that a move to a top team so early works out that well. We need to see him keep up this good performance all of this season. And either stay for another year at Sauber if they keep getting better, or go to a team like Hass. From then, It will be the right time to decide if he should go to a top team.

      3. Would be fun … but incredibly doubtful.

        Leclerc should get a driver test or a couple of FP sessions for Ferrari though.. just to warm up to the team he’ll most probably be joining next season.

    4. I want Kimi to stay.
      I wan’t Charles to be in a Ferrari.
      I want Daniel Ric to drive for Ferrari or Merc.

      Mind keeps ticking. Just thinking of the possibilities.

      1. Let’s see… Kimi at McLaren with Alonso, Ferrari with Leclerc and Daniel. Vettel to Merc with Lewis and Max with Bottas at RedBull. Vandoorne replaces Leclerc at Sauber. That works, not likely though haha

    5. Ben (@scuderia29)
      29th June 2018, 1:43

      No chance in a million years are ferrari going to drop leclerc into the car mid-season…in his rookie season, this is ferrari, not manor or HRT. They don’t operate like that.

      1. Not mid-season No. But Kimi is finished. Ferrari can’t take the risk of losing Charles. So Kimi is gone..outta here as they say in a ballpark.

      2. I cant remember the last time Ferrari hired a driver with less than 10 seasons or a world title.

          1. And Raikkonen.

        1. Force india driver after Spa 2008 i think? Fis… damn i forgot.

          1. @macleod, if you’re referring to Giancarlo Fisichella, 2009 was actually his fourteenth season in the sport when Ferrari hired him to temporarily replace Massa. Even Luca Badoer, the test driver who’d temporarily been drafted in to replace Massa at first, had at least four seasons under his belt before he became a test driver, albeit the last of those was in 1999.

            I think that the “less than 10 seasons” comment was a slightly flippant remark intended to highlight that Ferrari have traditionally not hired very inexperienced drivers – it’s very unlikely they’d drop Leclerc into the car this season, which would make him their least experienced driver since Gilles Villeneuve in 1977 and one of their least experienced drivers ever (I think only Gilles and Merzario, who debuted for Ferrari in 1972, would be less experienced than Leclerc would be if he replaced Kimi this season).

            Even if they dropped Leclerc in for 2019, he’d still be their least experienced driver since Gilles – even figures like Alesi had a bit more experience under their belt when joining Ferrari.

        2. Well, off the top of my head there’s Ickx, Andretti, Lauda, Regazzoni, Scheckter, Villeneuve, Tambay, Pironi, Johansson, Alboretto, Berger, Alesi, Morbidelli, Barrichello, Irvine, Salo, Fisichella and Massa. But other than those few I can’t think of any drivers without a WDC or ten season under their belt who have been hired by Ferrari.

          1. Ok, make it 5 seasons and run the list again, please.

      3. @scuderia29

        And why would Raikkonen drive for Sauber? Not for glory. Ferrari force him to drive to retain salary this time? That seems like bad press. There are affordable options for Sauber if LeClerc leaves.

        Seems silly.

      4. SexySnorlax1
        29th June 2018, 5:08

        Out of curiousity, I looked into the history of WDCs being dropped from their teams mid-season.

        1977: Ferrari drops Niki Lauda for rookie Gilles Villeneuve with 2 races to go, after arguments with Enzo about Lauda signing with Brabham for 1978

        1991: Ferrari drops Alain Prost for rookie Gianni Morbidelli for the final race of the season, after criticizing the team and the Ferrari 643

        2003: BAR-Honda drops Jacques Villeneuve for young test driver Takuma Sato for the final race of the season, after being beaten by his inexperienced teammate Jenson Button

        1. Jacques Villeneuve…the worst driver to ever win the DWC. It’s a bit of a stain on F1’s history if you ask me.

          1. @jeffreyj Shows how little you really know of the man then, since he shares the stuff on his resume that only Andretti and Fittipaldi can claim in the history of racing, not to mention JV came within a hair of the triple crown. But, you just don’t like him so you likely won’t care to absorb the facts.

            1. @robbie stop making assumptions and just ask me if you want to know why I don’t think highly of Villeneuve.

              JV’s first year in F1 was good, but he made his debut in F1 with Williams, who won the constructors championship with 175 points to 70 points for runners-up, Ferrari… (and they say Merc was dominant haha) So he was second, but was also soundly beaten by Hill (by 20 pts, in the old pts format mind you)

              Hill got fired by Williams and JV got Heinz Harrold Frentzen for a teammate the following year… I mean, come on now! He obviously beat Frentzen and won the championship. After that second year he did nothing but pootling around in F1.

              In fact, he was slower than a young Jenson Button and got replaced by Sato because of it, 1 race before the end of the season… He subsequently got outpaced by Alonso at Renault, by Massa at Sauber and was let go by BMW to make place for a rookie Robert Kubica, who had proven to be quicker than him….

              I think his F1 career pretty much speaks for itself, doens’t it? Yes, he did well in Indycar in ’95 and his team finished 2nd during the 24h LeMans in 08, but other than that his career after F1 is a pretty long list of unpressive results in NASCAR, Tourringcars and even FE.

              All we here form him now is his constant nagging. He’s a negative old man who really shouldn’t still be given a podium anymore because he was never really that relevant to begin with imho.

            2. @jeffreyj That’s ok I don’t need to know why which is why I didn’t ask, and your dismal summation just once again proves to me that you haven’t cared to pay attention to what really went on. You have an attitude toward him that I don’t, and that’s fine. We can leave it at that as any defence of him to you right now will only result in you spewing more generic rhetoric.

            3. @robbie You don’t need to ask what other’s think, you already know what others think. In fact, others disputing your assumption only confirms what you already know of course. Good job man.

      5. If the rumor was about replacing Grosjean at Haas, mid-season, that would’ve had more credibility… and actually not a bad idea at all – Leclerc gets more experience in a better car with same engine, while Haas would finally score some points with the other car.
        But to move to the scuderia, no, i don’t think so. Ferrari are too old school to pull a ‘Helmut Marko stunt’ like that.

    6. Is there really much value in asking all F1 drivers about football? Or are journos just out of ideas?

      well… there isn’t, but given that the questions and answers to typical F1-related stuff are always the same, why not ask something else?

      I mean, every week we see drivers and team representatives being asked about their future, and every single time they say “a decision will come soon”, “we’re just focused on this year” and that sort of thing. Why bother asking anyway? they won’t tell us…

      1. Hey Fer, it’s the same for everyone…

    7. three “sure things” for 2019:
      – LEC at ferrari
      – honda win
      – miami gp

      1. Well, all three might not be so sure I think.

        – Ferrari have never been putting 1st or 2nd year drivers in the car and tend to go with what they have anyway.

        – The narrative now is that Honda is making progress, but I’m not really seeing it to be honest (apart from a blip in Bahrain where they got 4th, they have been worse than last year). Both STR drivers are also on par for a boatload of engine penalties this year as all engine parts allowed are already used up by race 8 of 21. If Redbull build a dog like in 2015, or even a car as good as 2016 or the start of 2017, and combine that with a slow and unreliable Honda…. it could get very ugly, very quickly.

        – The Miami GP hasn’t been announced yet and they haven’t even decided the track layout as local politicians prevent the track running through their district and Miami residents trying to block the GP altogether.

    8. They wont drop Kimi mid year, surely. I don’t think he should be there in 2019 but that’s no way for a Champion to go. He will jag a win soon and everyone will say he is getting a 5 year contract :)

    9. I can’t see Ferrari promoting Leclerc until next year, would be a reckless move for no real gain, he’s still going to make mistakes, better they be made in the Sauber. RBR Honda won’t be any worse than RBR Renault, and both engines seem to have hopeless reliability compared to the Merc. It is truly a shame we haven’t been able to see two equally powered cars going head to head in this technical period, given the ability of Merc to develop their car aerodynamically I think we could have seen a really good battle between the four drivers if Merc were open to powering the Red Bull, hopefully the 2021 changes will brings the teams closer together in power.

    10. So…. Fred is going to have a 15HP party boost on Saturday. McLaren is saved!

      1. If the party mode works, Renault teams should be getting around 0.1s to 0.15s qualifying time boost. Which should give Red Bull a decent chance to get on the 2nd row. McLaren should have enough in hand to get out of Q1 (hopefully).

        1. @todfod are those real numbers or are you speculating?

          1. @pyon
            Based on the statement made by either Boullier / Horner (forgot who exactly) last season when they said every 10hp is probably worth around 0.1s of lap time on an average circuit. Sure, the Red Bull ring is a smaller circuit, yet it’s a power dependant circuit, so I assumed that we might see anywhere between 0.1 to 0.15s gain for teams enjoying party mode.

            I’d call it partially speculative ;)

            1. @todfod thanks for sharing your reasoning :)

    11. An interesting COTD. I wouldn’t write off Red Bull for the next two seasons yet, though. Too early to jump to definite conclusions on that. Honda could very well be competitive enough then for Red Bull to remain as a top-3 team. We shall wait and see how it’s eventually going to pan out.

      1. It all depends how good the Honda is in March 2019 because with the engine formula changing for 2021, the 2019 will get 1 or 2 more updates before they shift development. Any more development in an engine formula that will only last 1 more year is as sensible as setting money on fire. So, if the March 2019 isn’t on par with Ferrari and Mercedes, it could easily be a long and painfull 2 years for RedBull.

    12. Thank you for COTD @keithcollantine. I think quite a few are disappointed by Merc and Ferrari’s likely decisions in this matter.

      If Daniel really does want to leave RBR I think his next best bet is probably Renault. I don’t think they are willing to pay his asking price though.

      I imagine he might sign a 2 year deal only with RBR and then see what happens.

      1. If Daniel really does want to leave RBR I think his next best bet is probably Renault. I don’t think they are willing to pay his asking price though.

        Compromise would be the answer here. I think Ricciardo moving to Renault would be the better choice as I can’t see the Honda powered RB being any faster than the current Renault powered car. I think the factory Renault will have the better engine but the RB will have the better chassis next year. so 6 of one and 1/2 dozen other the other. In the longer term Renault is a factory team.

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