Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2020

Leclerc “will respect Ferrari’s decision” if they choose to replace Vettel

2020 Australian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc says he’s happy to continue driving alongside Sebastian Vettel if Ferrari extend his team mate’s contract, but will respect their decision if they make a change.

Ferrari handed Leclerc a new long-term deal during the off-season. But Vettel, who joined them from Red Bull in 2015, will be out of contract at the end of the year.

“I’m very good with him by my side,” said Leclerc when asked about his team mate’s future during the Australian Grand Prix weekend, “but I will respect Ferrari’s decision in case they want to change.”

The pair were involved in a series of disputes during their first season together last year.

Leclerc was accused of failing to respect the team’s arrangements during qualifying at Monza and was rebuked for querying the team’s strategy in Singapore, where the timing of his pit stop cost him victory to Vettel. In Russia Vettel repeatedly refused to follow an order to let Leclerc overtake him, and the pair retired in Brazil after colliding with each other.

Despite these incidents Leclerc insisted his relationship with Vettel “has always been good.”

“Obviously last year there have been some tricky moments,” he admitted. “But our relationship stayed the same, which I think is a good thing. We are both mature enough to do the separation between what happens on-track and [away from] the track.

“I feel very lucky to be in a position where I’ve got a long-term contract and and I’m happy to be in this position. I also know his position in a way as [in] my last two years I only had a one-year contract. But I don’t think it will it will destabilise him so much. He’s a very strong driver and I expect him to be very strong anyway.”

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64 comments on “Leclerc “will respect Ferrari’s decision” if they choose to replace Vettel”

  1. that mean, he wants another name :D

  2. Charles is saying the only thing he can say to this – he knows that this won’t be his call. Given the decision was meant to be happening in Spain, I worry that Sebastian won’t have much opportunity to influence the decision either way any more.

    1. Agreed, not even sure what other answer he could have given.

    2. @alianora-la-canta I would have thought that Vettel’s form in the five seasons and more than 100 races that he has driven for Ferrari would carry more weight than a small number of races at the start of this season. After all, the Spanish Grand Prix is still quite early on in the season, being just after the quarter distance point, and I am not sure that the five races to that point would have been decisive in Ferrari’s decision.

      It might alter some of the terms they might have made in any contract offer, but unless Vettel’s performance suddenly changed radically – i.e. if he either was suddenly a second slower than Leclerc, or a second faster than him for that matter – I suspect that they’ve probably already have made a decision on whether or not to offer him a contract, and the main influence of his early season form would be on the supplementary clauses of any offer to Vettel that they might make (e.g. bonus payments).

      1. @anon I think Ferrari was hoping to get some insight as to how Vettel would respond to the new direction on the car – they surely planned the change of concept in their car some time in advance – and also see whether more information on what 2021 would bring would help convince Vettel that it was desirable to stay.

        Ferrari wasn’t going to put much weight into those races for assessing Vettel’s skill – if it thought Vettel wasn’t good enough, they’d not be talking about him as their first option (or at least avoid committing to saying that). However, I do think they were going to use it to assess Vettel’s desire to continue with them, and to determine what terms should be agreed to secure this.

  3. Cristiano Ferreira
    17th March 2020, 13:48

    I don’t see Vettel downgrading like Raikkonen just to keep racing in F1. I doubt Mercedes will drop the wingman just to sign him. A Red Bull return could happen but its more down to how well Albon will drive in his first full season with them, also i don’t know if Vettel will want to go against Verstappen, for the sake of his image.

    He is still one of the best and if i were Ferrari i would extend his contract. There’s no one better than him available… unless him and Ricciardo switch places in the end of the season, but still, going to Renault is a complete downgrade.

    To me Vettel will retire if Ferrari decides they no longer needs his services.

    1. Vettel couldn’t handle the pressure from leclerc… but you think he’d willingly go against verstappen? I dunno that I could see that. IF HE lost out, that would be 3/3 times his less experienced team mate beat him… a truely sad fact…

      1. Vettel couldn’t handle the pressure from leclerc… but you think he’d willingly go against verstappen?

        Leclerc can be a tougher racer than Verstappen at times, however because he’s very calm he doesn’t give that impression.

        1. NeverElectric
          20th March 2020, 2:20


    2. Anything can happen on the driver market, it is exciting.

    3. A Red Bull return could happen but its more down to how well Albon will drive in his first full season with them, also i don’t know if Vettel will want to go against Verstappen, for the sake of his image

      Helmut Marko has already made it clear that the Vs (Verstappen & Vettel) will not race together at RBR.
      RBR were studying their options and considered Vettel for a drive only because they thought Verstappen would sign for Mercedes in 2021. Once they signed Verstappen, Vettel was discarded.

  4. Saying Vettel refused to let Leclerc overtake him in Russia is false. Leclerc lacked the pace had he been able to close the gap, Vettel could’ve let him go. Ferrari’s management showed their immature nature by obsessing over those predetermined team rules and keeping Vettel out longer to impose their will. Embarrassing

    1. @Nick P Sebastian was asked to let Charles by (no mention of gaps) and did not do so. If that’s not a refusal, it is not clear what else it could be. All the “gap” argument does is add context as to why the refusal happened.

  5. Steven Holmes
    17th March 2020, 15:09

    We call him Charlie Clerk which is easier than Sharells Layclaire. His name has ended up being said incorrectly by the media every time.
    Just say Charlie Clerk.
    That’s ERK

  6. He was never “one of the best”, only one of the fastest. Fastest does not equal best. GRO and MAL were fast, but they make mistakes at the same rate that VET does. VET is not top 5 on the current grid and I doubt that he ever was. He has twice now been DOMINATED by very fresh teammates.

    Merc would be foolish to downgrade from a better, less mistake prone BOT to the overrated mistake and crash prone VET, especially if they have to pay more to do so. Has VET done anything to justify his $40M paycheck at Ferrari? He should be offering to drive for free for the next 5 seasons to pay them back what he has crashed away while there.

    The “wingman” as you disrespectfully call him was better against a better HAM than VET was against LEC.

    1. Cristiano Ferreira
      17th March 2020, 17:58

      Whatever you say man… just don’t forget to take your medicine.

      by the way, “wingman” is what Toto called Bottas in the first place, not me.

      1. Christiano Ferreira I’m on the same page as you. I think Ferrari will re-sign him, I’m just not sure he would retire from F1 if they don’t, not that I have an answer as to where he might go otherwise.

        @megatron As a 4 time Champion SV deserves more respect than you give him, and you downgrade the very entity of F1 you obviously follow, with your attitude.

        Has SV brought anything to justify his $$? Ya first of all he won 4 WDCs, and you take that to any employer in F1 and they’re going to have to step up because they know if they don’t there are others that would love to have that experience in one of their cars.

        Secondly, what you are failing to see or acknowledge, due to your bias, is how badly Ferrari would have been off without his experience, post-Alonso. As much as they have struggled as a team not only to get their car to WCC level consistently over a season, but with their political mistakes, their strategic mistakes, their unreliability, and yes SV’s mistakes too, they would likely be way further behind without SV’s hard work in the background that we don’t get to see. Leclerc himself has spoken about how much he has learned from SV and from having him on the team. So as you go along with your anti-SV rant, remember that he has helped CL elevate his game too, as admitted by CL himself.

        What has he brought to the team? Far more than you care to acknowledge or that we see on Sunday.

        1. @robbie to play devil’s advocate on your comment about Vettel’s experience, some might point out that Ferrari already had an experienced championship winning driver at the team in the form of Raikkonen – a driver who was already into his second stint at the team and, at the time that Vettel joined Ferrari, had competed in about 50% more races than Vettel had.

          There were more experienced drivers out there that Ferrari could have turned to as well, such as Nico Rosberg or Jenson Button – the latter being, again, a championship winning driver, and he has indicated that Ferrari did approach him during the 2014 season. Out of all five championship winning drivers on the grid in 2014, Vettel was, with 139 entries under his belt at the end of 2014, the least experienced of those championship winning drivers.

          Equally, when Raikkonen was at Ferrari, one of the notable things about his time there was the fact he did not get involved in the politics of the team, whilst also being held in positive regard for the quality of the feedback he gave the team.

          It’s not to dismiss Vettel out of hand, but it is to question, particularly when Ferrari already had a more experienced championship winning driver at the team who had already taken on the role of team leader for them before, whether Vettel’s achievements could not have been replicated by other drivers if given that same role.

        2. @robbie. You can respect anyone you want, but don’t tell anyone else who or when to respect.

          He’s a living F1 driver, not a dead soldier…. He played himself when he started playing bumper cars instead of open wheel racing.

          SPARE ME/US.

        3. @robbie

          You make good points. However, the fact remains that Vettel has not performed as a championship winning driver these last couple years. Ferrari have been a mess since Stefano Domenicialli left. Even then some could argue that although SD ran a well oil machined, their inability to produce a car to compete with Red Bull, was a stain on his stewardship. Vettel’s has not managed to extract the maximum out of his machinery, he’s thrown away far too many good positions.

          Love him or loathe him, his predecessor, would never have done that. If certain BBC journos are to be believed, some in Maranello were certain that Ferrari would have won the WDC a couple years ago were he behind the wheel.

          I agree with @megatron , Vettel is fast, when he’s hook-ed up to his liking, he is untouchable. This is the Vettel we saw 2010-2013, imperious in cars that fit him like a glove. However, in many instances in that era, he was at the front, and he just drove off. When he was under pressure, or had to fight, he didnt necessarily stand out. This is why, I don’t regard him as one of the best. But hey, can’t blame him, he made the most of having the best machinery, so good on him.

          I do not question his work ethic. He has been renowned to have very a strong work ethic, spending hours and days with engineers on track and in the factory. I’m sure he has had a positive effect on the team. However, points are paid on track on a Sunday, and he has not performed, and thats what it boils down to.

          1. @jaymenon10 Very fair and well worded comment. It is as much the overkill rhetoric that I rail against than a need to defend SV. You’re right it comes down to points, and I just would expect that surely SV’s experience and input at least helped get the cars to where they have been, even if he and they ultimately squandered them. ie. yes he has earned his pay check nonetheless, for they can achieve serious points on their day.

            Remember the might of LH/Merc and tell me it’s been an easy journey to surpass that benchmark from all aspects of the process. Everything had to have lined up perfectly, (read: has to line up perfectly), to defeat the dynasty, so it’s certainly not all on SV, as we know, and if FA could have done it in one of SV’s recent cars, he would have had to drive his way past LH himself, oft hindered by the team. Not sure the reliability would have been there for him, but who knows right? It’s like speculating if LH didn’t have the dynasty car, but had the Ferrari’s and their trappings to boot. And SV had his silver ‘Red Bull’ back to run off in the sunset and not have to worry about as much.

        4. @robbie

          Going to have to disagree with you here.

          As a 4 time Champion SV deserves more respect than you give him, and you downgrade the very entity of F1 you obviously follow, with your attitude.

          Firstly… it’s a fan’s choice to respect whichever driver he wants. Due to the nature of F1.. we have best machine winning the battle, instead of best driver around 90% of the time. So, we do get drivers with a resume that is far more impressive than they actually bring to the table. You might not believe that is the case for Vettel, but plenty of fans do, and you need to respect that.

          they would likely be way further behind without SV’s hard work in the background that we don’t get to see.

          Disagree again. The entire Ferrari management has been reshuffled, and the improvement in the engineering operations has been Ferrari’s largest gain. That has little or nothing to do with Vettel’s presence. This is more a consequence of Binotto’s rise within the Ferrari camp. I think assigning credit to Vettel for any improvement in the Ferrari camp is unjustified.

          The only thing that Vettel is directly responsible for is his own performance… and let’s face it… even if you’re a Vettel supporter… you would have to admit that Vettel has been an epic fail in terms of performance as compared to Alonso.

      2. Toto said that BOT did well as HAM’S wingman, on that day, in that particular race, and it was the person who asked the question that used the word wingman first. As usual people take things out of context to use them for whatever purpose they wish. Whatever the usage of the word, the “wingman” was much better than the “spinman” last year.

    2. Interesting points! Vettel was fast to win from the front. And he did manage to overtack with a fast car. But this idea is interesting, that he’s fast, but not so… skilled (?) as some others.

      Vettel and Räikkönen are interesting. Kimi was not so fast with Lotus and Ferrari anymore, but he did almost no stupid mistakes. Vettel is going at 100.00% too much and it makes him do mistakes?

      I’d love to see Hamilton in 2nd or 3rd fastest car!

      1. Cristiano Ferreira
        17th March 2020, 19:55

        Thanks for sharing your view @robbie

        Also, applauses to your for pointing out something so obvious to someone who wants to stay ignorant about it.


        Hamilton would pretty much do some mistakes like he did in Brazil last year when he was in a situation where his car was not the fastest one. That’s why Vettel do some mistakes, because some are due to him overdriving the car. That’s the main reason we don’t see Hamilton doing mistakes, because he is driving for the best team and in the best car overall.

        1. Hamilton would pretty much do some mistakes like he did in Brazil last year when he was in a situation where his car was not the fastest one. That’s why Vettel do some mistakes

          Absolute nonsense.

      2. I agree. I think the last few years Vettel was trying to extract too much from the Ferrari to keep up and overtake the Mercedes. Maybe trying to overdrive the car, but in fact overdrove (is that a word?) himself.
        That the team often also made tactical mistakes for sure didn’t help. And that increased the pressure on Vettel even more. And I do believe he was under incredible pressure. From Ferrari management, and himself.

    3. @megatron like verstappen says, “Ham has had little pressure” I don’t say this to downgrade Lewis I say this to be fair to the other guys. When Ham was dragging the mclarens he made mistakes. In the end do Vettel’s or Max’s mistakes matter? They only care about winning, their teams only care about winning, going 100% was the only way to win, so it is not like they lost out much.

      1. @peartree

        HAM got 9 straight podiums off the start of his rookie season(while sat next to the reigning wdc), you are trying to tell me about “pressure”?

        What mistakes did HAM make when dragging the McLaren? Is it a tenth of the mistakes Vettel has made in the last year? List them out please, I am an F1 historian who has watched every race since 1980 several times over and have detailed notes on every race weekend since 2000. HAM has made less major mistakes in his whole career than VET has in the last 2 years.

        Again, please lost them out.

        VER lost out in wins in Brazil 2018 and Mexico 2019 because of stupid mistakes on his part, his foolish moves have cost him a number of wins.

        1. @megatron 07 mclaren was not a drag. 09, 10, 11 and 12, some were better than others but none were top cars.
          there was the shanghai pit in off, cutting a corner in belgium 08(bs) though that was not a bad car trying to do the impossible mistake, a mistake nonetheless. 09 australia with trulli, 2011 season as a whole
          And I don’t have photographic memory to recall all Ham’s or any other drivers mistakes hence why I’m well aware any driver can make mistakes. Like I said circumstances are very important and that is one of the reasons Ham has been so solid in the hybrid era. Max ruined a few races for being too aggressive, some at starts, belgium twice, spain once and there is more, he also won some solely on aggression, like his first austria win.

      2. I agree with what several people said, I think vettel is not performing at the level that is expected from a 4 times champion, I’d go as far as saying he didn’t get worse than he was at red bull, he just was never anything special and just won when he had the rocketship and a weak team mate.

        Even hamilton to some extent needed the rocketship to win, but he still performed fine even when he didn’t, like his mclaren years show, and he arguably had a similar car to vettel in 2018, see the result.

      3. Ham was ok in 2009, the last time he had a bad car.

  7. LEC will hate it when Max takes the helm!

    1. Yes, because VER will crash into him same as Vettel has.

    2. @pennyroyal and how many f1 champion partners has verstappen has compared to lewis? And when has verstappen been an f1 champion that he needed to maintain? Its easier to chase because theres less pressure on you. The pressure is on the champion to maintain& defend. A basic sporting code.

    3. @Islander The helm of where? He’s already at the helm of Red Bull, and he said himself he won’t be team-mates with Charles because he thinks having two “alpha” drivers on the same team is a bad idea. And if you’re referring to a championship “helm”, that’s a good result, and not something that should cause hatred (even if it’s a rival doing it).

      1. @Alianora, If Max gets the call from Ferrari, which I believe he will at some point, he will go there regardless of whether Lec is still there. What he has already said will not make any difference. Nor will contracts. I think Ferrari will hang on to Seb as long as Seb wishes to stay. That’s probably [if racing resumes] a couple of years. Then Max will take the helm. That’s my guess, right or wrong….

    4. alonso_schumi
      19th March 2020, 5:24

      throw in Mick Schu into the mix!

  8. “I’m very good with him by my side,” said Leclerc
    Sounds like the talk of a number one driver. Hmph. There is never smoke without fire. All these talks of Vettel to McLaren to be No.1 an Sainz to Ferrari to be No.2 aren’t popping up out of nowhere.

    1. @david-beau
      Yes, I thought the same thing. Very clever.

      I’m curious about ” I also know his position in a way as [in] my last two years I only had a one-year contract. But I don’t think it will it will destabilise him so much”.

      Does Leclerc suspect Vettel will only get one year? Must we assume he only means the uncertainty of having no contract? I’m not so sure.

      1. @slotopen No, he’s commenting that Vettel has one year left on his contract, which in effect is like having a one-year contract.

    2. Why would Ferrari sign sainz? No team is going to get fooled again by sainz. Rb were clever to hand him to Renault but they might get desperate for a good enough number 2. McLaren, considering where they were, made the right decision in signing him, he brings many millions with him. If I were McLaren I would get Nando.

      1. Rb were clever to hand him to Renault

        Yes, very clever to throw away a very solid chance at P2 in the WCC by swapping two mediocre drivers about while he beat them both in a car a second slower.

        Just usual @peartree grade A nonsense.

      2. They need a No.2 for Leclerc. Sainz was the most solid midfield driver in 2019 so he’s the perfect candidate. He wont like being number 2, but he wont refuse Ferrari either!

  9. Given current form of Seb, getting Sainz from Mclaren / Ricciardo from Renault, either would be a step up. I just hope the Ferrari management take that plunge.

    No drivers champion in the Ferrari. The last time that happened was 2007 (Kimi wasn’t champion at start of 2007) and prior to that 1995.

    1. Simply dumping Vettel would be a massive improvement, addition by subtraction, for Ferrari. He has very much hurt that team in several different ways.

    2. No chance McLaren will let Sainz go, and Sainz has said he’s very happy there.

      A Leclerc-Ricciardo pairing at Ferrari would be brilliant.

  10. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    17th March 2020, 19:35

    I still think the team orders in Russia were so pointless. Vettel ignoring them actually worked to good effect, they still had 1 – 2 positions and Vettel demonstrated that he was quicker by extending the gap to over 4 seconds. If Ferrari Hadn’t messed up by wasting Vettel’s time to try and get Leclerc back ahead as well as the fact Vettel had an issue later on, that will have been Vettel’s race to win if not for these occurrences. Those team orders really had no need and I think Vettel showed why.

    May seem like I am implying Vettel is better than Leclerc. In general, I don’t think he has been better this year and there have been more races that have been the other way round – Vettel being favoured over Leclerc. But Russia was clearly totally the opposite to what it had been previously. Ferrari so often have been messing up the quicker drivers races just to get the one they want to finish to stay ahead, even if they are clearly not as fast that day.

    1. The reason for the swap was that Leclerc gave Seb a predetermined tow and overtake at the start of the race. If Seb didn’t want to return the place, he should not have agreed to the start tactics. Also, Seb did not give Charles a tow in Italy. The Hulk did, watch qualifying again media. Seb is and always will be a selfish, unfair ct. Multi 21.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        17th March 2020, 20:55

        Given Vettel had such a good start, I see absolutely no reason for him to back off. He got past Hamilton and had had enough speed to get by Leclerc without forcing Leclerc into those behind him. It was a simple and clean pass. Given the speed advantage Vettel proved he had by extending the gap to 4.5 seconds, I don’t see why he should have had to back off to let Leclerc by or have his strategy ruined.

        Vettel IMO deserved that win even if he was unreasonable in terms of team orders. But he proved he was faster and also to me proved that it was pointless swapping positions again given how much faster he was.

        The vast majority of races this year, it has been clear that Ferrari have done this same sort of thing on Leclerc. I think they were just as bad with Vettel this time. If it is so obvious that one driver is quicker, i don’t know why they bother ruining the other drivers race. I blame Ferrari much more than the drivers for this.

      2. “Seb is and always will be a selfish, unfair ct. Multi 21.”

        Omg common, Webber ignored teamorders like 4 times, including at the wdc-final in Brazil 2012. Why on earth would he be do what was told? Webber didn’t do it all the times he was asked.

        In that whole story, Webber was a smart public figure, while he was the one making things hard. He was asked to let Vettel by in Turkey, as Vettel was told (however in code), but then decided to fight him. He was complaining he didn’t got a new front wing while his own engineers said he didn’t even like it!

        He kept attacking Vettel even though he was asked not to in Silverstone, he didn’t help in Brazil, and there were probably more things we don’t know he didn’t do but publicly he made it look like the team always chose Vettel’s side.

  11. Bottom line is that Vettel is a four time world champion, despite what anybody says, he has as many titles as Alain Prost. When Charles Leclerc is judged, he will be judged by how many championships he has won. In thirteen years time, we will see.

    1. Can’t argue that.

  12. Leclerc is very good in the art of talking down his co driver and talking himself up whilst seeming to be doing something else entirely to capture the adoration of fans

    Polically he is very clever. A teammate to be wary of.

    1. Agree that he’s very clever politically. He’s far more ruthless than he looks.

      1. not ruthless….just sneaky

        1. Monza 2019 could underscore your point

  13. “but will respect their decision if they make a change.” This is how stupid F1 drivers can be. What else would he do? Resign?

    1. @danmar Ayrton Senna threatened to when his team, Lotus, wanted to make Derek Warwick his team-mate in 1986. And Lotus backed down and hired Johnny Dumfries instead…

      It is an option, albeit an extreme one, and probably not one to which a sensible driver would admit to considering in advance! (Also, I seriously doubt any driver currently in F1 has the necessary leverage to pull it off, and I suspect they all know it).

      1. Interesting. And I agree with your doubts. :)

  14. The predictable endless ‘rumours’ about Vettel’s retirement or sacking. I expect them to be promoted almost weekly from now on.

  15. If the rise of the clones succeed, there would always be a competitive seat for Sebastian Vettel.

  16. One pole position in a car that had 50bhp more whilst ya teammate got like 9 or something. Embarassing for a 4xWC. Vet is now 0-2 when new guys come into his established team and no doubt it will be 0-3 this year. Ric and Leclerc boith came in and beat him first try. Vettel needs guys in there late 30’s early 40’s to beat. Sorry but no Webber and Raikonnen any more Seb…

  17. “I’m very good with him by my side,” said Leclerc.

    This just sums it all up. Vettel is making him look good, very good in fact.

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