May 1 (GMM) After his first podium of 2023, Charles Leclerc once again rejected weekend-long speculation that he is looking to escape his Ferrari contract.
Team boss Frederic Vasseur, however, was first with the latest round of denials that the 25-year-old Monegasque has already kicked off talks with Mercedes’ Toto Wolff.
“Leclerc is a Ferrari driver, he loves it here and wants to be champion here,” said the Frenchman.
“We are only at the beginning of the season, there will be a lot more gossip but for us it is not a topic of discussion.”
Leclerc also rounded out the Baku race weekend, in which he was quickest in both the sprint and main qualifying sessions, by re-pledging his commitment to Maranello.
“Fred has a good medium and long-term vision for the team,” he told Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “I have no doubt that he is the one who can bring Ferrari back to the top.
“Of course you can see from the outside that the car isn’t fast enough, but he has a good eye for what could work even better in the individual departments,” Leclerc added.
So when asked for a clear answer as to whether he can be champion at the wheel of a red car, he insisted: “Yes.
“When I dream of one day being world champion, I imagine myself wearing a red racing suit and getting out of a red car. So I can consider myself lucky to be part of Ferrari,” said Leclerc.
Some experts, however, insist that if Leclerc wants to be champion in the medium term, he will need to kick off contract talks with Red Bull or Mercedes.
“I do not believe that,” he responded.
“I believe in the team 100 percent and trust everyone from the mechanics to the team boss. But it’s not a one-way street either,” Leclerc added.
“The team has to believe in me too. But it’s still too early to talk about a new contract.”
Leclerc is under contract until the end of 2024, but Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko said recently that there would be escape clauses in the deal.
“There are setbacks along the way,” said Leclerc. “Last year and this year we didn’t take the step that we wanted. We have to do that now.
“But we also have to be able to deal with it. Michael (Schumacher) and Jean (Todt) also had immense pressure and still won several world championships in a row. So we can’t complain.”