Charles Leclerc breaks silence on Mercedes contract talks

Rumours have been swirling around the future of Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, as the Italian team faces one of its most challenging seasons yet.

Amidst a challenging weekend at Zandvoort, both for Ferrari as a team and for their star Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc, speculation regarding Leclerc’s hesitancy towards contract negotiations beyond 2024 surfaced. 

However, the 25-year-old swiftly debunked rumours of talks with Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, asserting that no substantial discussions had taken place.

In an interview with La Repubblica newspaper, Leclerc stated, “Nothing real or serious, ever.” 

He affirmed his unwavering commitment to Ferrari, emphasising his deep-rooted belief in the team. 

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“I love Ferrari, I believe in it like the first day and as long as it is like this I will be there,” he asserted. 

This statement underscores his loyalty to the iconic Italian racing team.

Jody Scheckter, the 1979 Formula One world champion, echoed Leclerc’s sentiments about the roller-coaster nature of Ferrari’s fortunes. 

Scheckter recognised the challenge Leclerc faces as the de-facto lead driver in a team that historically swings between highs and lows. 

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He attributed this pattern to a cultural aspect, stating, “The reason is also in the Italian mentality, where consistency is not the top priority, but emotion.”

Despite the trials Ferrari often experiences, Leclerc remains resolute in his aspirations. He expressed his determination to become the first world champion in a Ferrari since Kimi Raikkonen. 

“I know that right now I don’t have the car to fight with Max (Verstappen),” he conceded, “but I have no doubts that my path is right. 

“I’ll look back at my career when I stop, but I have no regrets or remorse. 

“I’m happy at Ferrari,” Leclerc affirmed.

Leclerc acknowledged the formidable challenge posed by Verstappen’s dominant streak at Red Bull. 

However, he clarified that he doesn’t wish to trade places with Verstappen, as his focus remains on achieving victory with Ferrari. 

“Every time I close my visor, I think only about victory,” Leclerc stated.

He acknowledged that winning this season would be a complex endeavour, emphasising the need for improvements and team stability.

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Leclerc’s comfort within the Ferrari environment has been bolstered by the change in leadership. 

With Frederic Vasseur taking over from Mattia Binotto as team principal, Leclerc has found a more direct and open line of communication. 

“He communicates openly with me, without people in the middle, which helps me as a driver,” Leclerc explained.