Ferrari boss: ‘Don’t put words from Helmut Marko into my mouth!’

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur has revealed the team is preparing to extend its contracts with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

While Ferrari has been in the midst of a challenging time, suffering a serious of disappointing results, Red Bull have stamped their dominance on the sport.

As the team has struggled to meet the high standards expected by their fans, speculation has surrounded the future of their drivers, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. 

Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur, however, has expressed openness to the possibility of both drivers signing fresh deals beyond 2024. 

Yet, Vasseur made it clear that any contract talks would only commence towards the end of the current season, with the primary focus on car development.

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Responding to questions from Corriere dello Sport about Leclerc and Sainz’s potential tenure beyond 2024, Vasseur stated, “Why not? 

“But we will start talking towards the end of the season, and they both know it well: I told them as soon as I arrived. 

“Today, the only priority is to develop the car.”

Regarding suggestions that Ferrari appears to be leaning towards Leclerc with more support, Vasseur dismissed any notions of favouritism. 

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He firmly denied previous statements attributed to him about backing a single driver for a title challenge, clarifying that such words were misconstrued from Red Bull’s driver program boss, Helmut Marko.

“No no, don’t put words from Helmut Marko into my mouth! I have never said that, nor have I ever done that,” asserted Vasseur. 

“I’m just saying that if you want to aim for the Drivers’ World Championship, at a certain point in the season, you have to make a choice and favour those who are ahead in the standings. 

“However, we are not in these conditions today.”

When asked about Leclerc’s willingness to support Sainz in the team game if the roles were reversed, Vasseur drew parallels to Red Bull’s unequal treatment of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. 

He clarified that Ferrari believes in providing equal support to both drivers, affirming his unwavering commitment to this approach throughout his twenty-five-year career.

“Your question assumes that Charles is number one, but that is not the case,” emphasised Vasseur. 

“I started this job twenty-five years ago thinking that two drivers should be given equal support, and I have no intention of changing. 

All the teams do it this way, with the exception of Red Bull with Verstappen and Perez.”

For Leclerc and Sainz, the decision about their futures at Ferrari may hinge significantly on the team’s potential to contend for championships once again. 

Ferrari’s last Constructors’ title victory was in 2008, and closing the gap to Red Bull’s dominance is a formidable challenge. 

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However, Vasseur refrained from setting specific targets or deadlines, emphasising the importance of focusing on continuous car performance improvements.

“We can’t talk about targets and deadlines, except to say: we have to develop all those little things that contribute to the performance of the car,” Vasseur stated

“The fans, the journalists, the sponsors would like to know when we will return to winning: to give a precise answer would be silly. Let’s just concentrate on ourselves.”