Amid speculation surrounding the future of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc beyond their 2024 contracts with Ferrari, team principal Frederic Vasseur is determined to preserve what he considers an “excellent” driver lineup.
This resolve aligns with former Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo’s recent declaration that, for the Scuderia, “the last problem today is the drivers – it is the car.”
In his newly appointed role as team boss, Vasseur appears to share Montezemolo’s sentiment. Speaking at the Il Festival dello Sport, Vasseur emphasised the vital role drivers play in the team’s performance.
“The drivers are part of the performance, and we have two excellent ones – very good and competitive,” he remarked.
“We have talked about them, and they are professionals.
“They know where the limits are, and so far, they have done a fantastic job.”
However, recent rumours have linked Carlos Sainz, in particular, to discussions with Audi regarding a potential move to Sauber in the future.
These speculations have emerged in the context of claims that Sainz and Leclerc’s relationship has been strained, with Leclerc’s standing as Ferrari’s de facto ‘number 1’ driver facing challenges.
Sainz, who was also present at the festival in Trento, addressed these rumours, saying, “I trust him (Leclerc) a lot.
“I see him as honest, and I see his commitment to the team. And the important thing is to build the future together.”
The 29-year-old Sainz has also sought clarity regarding his expiring contract from Vasseur.
When questioned about Sainz, Vasseur acknowledged the driver’s commitment and tenacity, indicating that he has been working diligently to address areas where improvements were needed.
Vasseur stated, “He is tenacious, which we see in every turn he takes.
“This year he has worked a lot on some things that slowed him down, and since Monza, he has changed his approach.
“In sport, talent is not enough. You have to constantly improve, and Carlos has this mentality.”
Sainz himself downplayed any suggestion that he is growing weary of his role in the iconic red Ferrari.
He commented, “All the great legends of F1 have been at Ferrari, except poor Ayrton (Senna), who didn’t have the opportunity.
“But Michael (Schumacher), Fernando (Alonso), (Gilles) Villeneuve – everyone. Every driver wants to be at Ferrari one day. Whoever says otherwise is lying.”