Toto Wolff comments on secret negotiations with Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc's P2 in the Azerbaijan sprint race saw him double his current points tally amid a poor start to 2023 with Ferrari.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has quashed suggestions that Charles Leclerc has been holding secret conversations with the Silver Arrows, in preparation to replace seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.

With Hamilton’s future still up in the air and Ferrari’s performances being questionable, it was reported by Italian media that Leclerc was the favourite to replace the 38-year-old, should he not sign a contract extension.

Hamilton’s current deal expires this season; however, the 103-time race winner and Wolff have both informed the media that an extension will be signed this year.

With that in mind, Wolff informed the media that himself and Leclerc haven’t had “a single conversation” about a move to Mercedes, with the Germans very much planning for a future with Hamilton.

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“As he said, we didn’t have a single conversation, except maybe at the airport about whether to go to Starbucks,” Wolff said at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“I don’t know where this rumour came from or if someone is spreading it. But there’s nothing there.”

Should Hamilton make a surprising U-turn and retire this season after all, then Wolff already has a replacement in mind.

“I already have a third driver and he’s not bad at all,” Wolff informed Servus TV, referring to reserve driver Mick Schumacher.

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“But the point is that we’ve been with Lewis for ten years and that’s not going to change. In a few years we’ll look around sometime.”

Leclerc has also silenced any rumours that he’s been talking to Mercedes by stating that he is eager “to win with Ferrari”, due to him being in “love” with the manufacturer.

“Unfortunately we are in a moment in which all my words are used to make a little more noise,” Leclerc told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I love Ferrari and I want to win with Ferrari. I have nothing else other than that except that I hope that with these words everything is clarified.”

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Things have certainly been going better for Leclerc and Ferrari so far this weekend at the Baku City Circuit, with the 25-year-old having claimed pole position for the sprint race and the main race on Sunday.

He was unable to convert his pole in the sprint into victory, though, after being overtaken by Sergio Perez in the opening stages of the shortened race.

Leclerc was able to hold on for a comfortable second, though, with him now targeting his first actual podium of the season on Sunday.