Neither Charles Leclerc nor Carlos Sainz have put pen to paper on a new Ferrari contract according to team boss Frederic Vasseur; 2023 was Vasseur’s first season in charge of Ferrari and they were the only team to claim a race victory during Red Bull’s record-breaking campaign
Last Updated: 16/12/23 11:08pm
Team principal Frederic Vasseur says Ferrari are “not in a rush” to sign new contracts with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
Both drivers’ current deals expire at the end of 2024 with 12 other drivers on the F1 grid also having contracts that run out next year.
But Leclerc has reportedly signed a new five-year deal to stay with Ferrari until 2029 according to the Italian media while Sainz’s future is still not clear.
Vasseur had previously said he expected the deals to be agreed by the end of 2023, but is now pointing to rivals Mercedes waiting until August earlier this year to seal an extension with Lewis Hamilton, whose previous contract had been set to expire at the end of the year.
“We are not in a rush to extend the deals but have started discussions. Mercedes did it in August. We are not in a rush at all,” Vasseur told Sky Italy.
“This season, I was expecting to do it before the end of the year. But the season was a huge one and we have started the discussion. But, again, we are not in a rush.”
Leclerc, who came through the Ferrari academy before starting his F1 career with Sauber, has been at the team since 2019. Sainz joined in 2021, having previously driven for Toro Rosso, Renault and McLaren.
Vasseur: Important not to be arrogant
Ferrari missed out on second place in the 2023 Constructors’ Championship by three points to Mercedes despite Leclerc’s three podiums in the final four races.
Sainz took the only non-Red Bull win of the year at the Singapore Grand Prix and was just six points behind his team-mate in the Drivers’ Championship, the Ferrari duo finishing fifth and seventh.
Vasseur, who took over Mattia Binotto as team boss at the start of the year, thinks Ferrari “shouldn’t be scared to take risks” after taking a “huge step forward” in the second half of the season.
“I’m always worried because it’s my job to! Even if you are only focused on yourself it’s important not to be arrogant,” said Vasseur.
“I’ve been doing this job for six years and it’s always a good lesson of humility because you can do a good job one Sunday, then the Sunday after you are nowhere.
“It’s a normal process. It’s not to be worried…we just need to improve everywhere and this is the most important message.
“It’s not that Red Bull have a magic bullet that puts them four tenths ahead. They are probably better than us with 10 things worth four hundredths. We need to do small steps everywhere and keep this mindset.”
Vasseur sees Verstappen as the benchmark
A record-breaking season for Max Verstappen saw him score more than twice as many points as runner-up Sergio Perez, with Red Bull 451 points ahead of Mercedes and 454 points in front of Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship.
Ferrari haven’t won a title in F1 since 2008 with Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel failing to become world champion with the red team during that period.
In 2022, Leclerc led the early stages of the championship as Ferrari and Red Bull went head-to-head in the first half of the season. However, their title challenge quickly faded away due to mistakes from driver and team, plus reliability woes.
Vasseur insists Ferrari’s progress back to the front is “all about details” and is pleased with the attitude of the team during his first 12 months in charge as they look to get back on terms with Red Bull.
“For sure he [Verstappen] will be the benchmark. They [Red Bull] had an advantage this season and I’m sure they will improve next year,” added Vasseur.
“But if you look at the last part of the season I think we made a step on the technical side and we are much closer to them in qualy and the race.
“Even in the races we could fight with him and doing this, they will probably do some more mistakes. It’s like a snowball. If you make a step forward, you get more motivation and the others struggle a bit more. We have to take it step by step and not imagine we will be winning every single weekend.”
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Source : Sky Sports