Sebastian Vettel says Charles Leclerc’s long-term deal to drive for Ferrari will not affect whether he pursues a new contract with the team.
[f1tv2020testa]Leclerc joined the team last season and out-scored Vettel in their first season together. The pair also clashes on several occasions over team orders and both retired from the Brazilian Grand Prix, where they collided.
During the winter break Leclerc signed a new five-year contract to drive for Ferrari which will keep him at the team until at least 2024. Vettel’s current contract expires at the end of this season.
Asked whether it was “painful” to see Leclerc agree a major new deal while his future remains undecided Vettel said “no, I was quite happy for him.”
“I don’t see why it should have been painful,” Vettel added. He insisted Leclerc’s presence in the team won’t significantly affect his decision about his future.
“I think right from the start I had a good relationship with Charles and I think we get along,” said Vettel. “Obviously he’s in a very different stage with his career than I am. So I’m aware of that. But I don’t think ultimately it matters too much.”
Speaking in an FIA press conference at Circuit de Catalunya, Vettel was keen to deflect questions about his future. He stressed he still enjoys driving Formula 1 cars, despite being unhappy with one aspect of how the rules have changed current designs.
“I love driving,” he said. “I think that the cars feel ultra-fast. The fastest cars they ever have been. The only downside they have is still that I would say there’s still a bit too heavy in the low-speed stuff.
“But for sure the amount of downforce we have if I also compared to all the cars I’ve driven so far they are the fastest cars so it’s very exciting to be part of that. Obviously I don’t know how the cars [will] feel next year and what are the current predictions and so on. But as a driver it’s always exciting to go fast and these cars are very, very exciting to drive.”
The Ferrari driver will begin his 13th full season in Australia next month. “Obviously I’ve been around for a while, but I still love what I do,” he said. “I love driving. I got really excited when I got in the car last week and very quickly got back into a rhythm. That feels great, the satisfaction you get from driving the car is I would say still the same.
[smr2020test]”Obviously we’re not just here to get a great feeling driving around. I’m here to win. And in that regard, [in] the recent years, some of them were good, better than others, but none of them have been to our liking at the very end because I joined Ferrari to win the championship. We haven’t done so so far.
“It’s been a couple of years now but as I said the hunger, the will, the determination is still there. That determination in the group is there inside the team so we are here to fight.”
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has said Vettel is their first choice for the second seat alongside Leclerc next year. Vettel said the situation is “vice versa” as far as he’s concerned.
“But right now the highest priority is the car down in the garage and making sure that we squeeze everything out, we learn as much as we can,” he said. “So right now, it’s not that important.
“There will be a time where it will be important to get through these things and sort out the future. But I would appreciate if that was the last question regarding that.”
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