Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023

Vasseur “not scared at all” amid speculation over Leclerc’s Ferrari future

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur insists he has no concerns Charles Leclerc may seek to leave the team following his disappointing start to the 2023 season.

Leclerc is in the fourth year of a five-year deal to drive for Ferrari. During that time the team’s performance slumped in 2020, then rebounded, and last year he won three races and finished second in the championship.

Ferrari has begun 2023 on the back foot again, however. Leclerc lies 10th in the standings after the first three races. That has prompted speculation he may seek to move elsewhere.

Frederic Vasseur, whom Leclerc previously worked with at Sauber, took over as team principal at the beginning of the year. However the team has since lost top staff members including sporting director Laurent Mekies and head of vehicle design David Sanchez.

“You always build the team around a driver” – Vasseur
Nonetheless Vasseur remains confident of agreeing a new deal with Leclerc, telling reporters in Baku today discussions will begin this year. “We will do it in the course of the season,” he said.

“He’s under contract with us for more than one year now and we’ll have time to discuss it. I’m not scared at all and I think it’s not the right moment to do it.”

Leclerc remains central to Ferrari’s efforts to score its first world championship victory in 15 years, said Vasseur. “He’s clearly part of the project. He’s not a spectator of this.

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“He’s involved in the development of the team. He’s part of the development because he’s developing himself. He’s a performance contributor both on-track and out of the track. And as long as he will play this role we are on a good path.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2023
Leclerc has endured a miserable start to 2023
Vasseur said he hopes to emulate the same kind of success with Leclerc that other teams have had with F1’s most successful drivers. “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 top stories in F1 took time, but it was always a team built-up around some one driver. It was true with Lewis at Mercedes, it was true before with Michael at Ferrari, it was true with Alonso at Renault, it was true everywhere. Vettel and Red Bull, you can find tons of examples.

“For sure Charles is an important pillar of the performance and he has to play the role into the car, outside of the car to be a performance contributor and he is fully supportive on this part of the job. And I’m really convinced that it’s also a personal commitment from himself.”

Leclerc has been rumoured as a potential replacement for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes. However the seven-times champion’s current contract comes up for renewal at the end of this season – one year before Leclerc’s Ferrari deal runs out.

No conversations have taken place between Mercedes and Leclerc so far, according to the driver. “Not yet,” he said. “Not for the moment.

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“For now, I am fully focussed on the project I am in today, which is Ferrari. As I said, I fully trust and I am confident for the future. Then we’ll see. But I’m fully confident for the project of Ferrari.”

“I’m fully committed to Ferrari and I love Ferrari,” Leclerc added. “It’s always been a dream for me to be in this team and my main priority is to win a world championship with the team. So it’s not something in my mind.”

Hamilton dismissed speculation his seat could be taken by Leclerc. “I think maybe some of the drivers will speak or have relationships with different bosses and stuff. [But] 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 forward. So it doesn’t have any impact, no.”

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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12 comments on “Vasseur “not scared at all” amid speculation over Leclerc’s Ferrari future”

  1. Leclerc is no Ricciardo, he wouldn’t move backwards just to get away from a team I’d think. So what are his options then, there’s only two teams he could possibly want to move to from Ferrari, and neither teams will be looking at replacing their top driver for Charles or in Red Bull’s case, replace their complacent second driver for a feisty one dreaming of championships.

    So yeah, Vasseur has nothing to worry about, Charles isn’t going anywhere for several years.

    1. Yes, I don’t think red bull would want to risk having 2 alphas, but I wouldn’t count a mercedes move out: hamilton says he still loves what he’s doing, but he’s getting old, and he didn’t think he would’ve raced till a very late age, so if he retires anytime soon and ferrari still didn’t pull themselves together, I think it would make sense for leclerc to move to merc.

  2. Well of course he isn’t scared.
    Ferraris Management and race direction is so abysmally bad that it doesn’t matter who drives for them … they will screw it up anyway!

    1. Aha, that’s a good point, in the sense they can get anyone they want, verstappen, hamilton, alonso, norris, russell, they would still fail to win a championship cause of the constant pit wall mistakes + slow mid season development!

  3. Will Charles suddenly stop making mistakes if he is put in a differently-coloured car?

    1. In a red bull for sure, it’s easier to make mistakes when you have a lot of cars at similar level as your own or you’re battling in the midfield, than when you’re pulling away at the front.

  4. “Well, thanks very flipping much, Vasseur,” said Sainz.

  5. Such verbiage.

    Well both word and speaker originating from France so appropriate I guess.

  6. The Dolphins
    28th April 2023, 3:59

    Would be interesting to see a driver swap between Ferrari and Mercedes. Charles and George would make for a good intra-team battle. Lewis has only driven for Mercedes-powered teams in F1 so it would mean another streak is broken.

  7. Could he do the same as some footballers do. Stay at the same team their whole career?

  8. Mark in Florida
    28th April 2023, 13:55

    The smart thing to do would be to give FV a year to see how he does and if he’s going to turn the team around. So Leclerc could take a one year contract then if Lewis seat comes open and if Wolf is interested he can be free to choose and not be bound by a long term contract. Of course Ferrari could help him make up his mind a lot faster if they start randomly sabotaging his races again to get a win for Carlos…just saying.

  9. I wouldn’t be scared either. I would even consider dumping Leclerc. The guy is clearly not a championship material. Too weak mentally, and even Sainz beats him sometimes.

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