Leclerc ‘would be happy if Vettel stays at Ferrari’
Charles Leclerc says that he would be happy if four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel stayed at Maranello and continued to be his team mate at Ferrari beyond the end of 2020.
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Vettel’s contract with the team expires at the end of 2020, while Leclerc has already signed a lucrative new five-year contract with the squad that keeps him there until 2024.
That seems to suggest Ferrari management views Leclerc as very much the future mainstay of their F1 operation. It comes after Leclerc finished ahead of Vettel in last year’s drivers championship in his first year with the Scuderia.
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Leclerc is hopeful that the German will stay put and continue to drive for Ferrari in 2021. That’s despite reports of tensions between the pair that culminated in a costly on-track crash in last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
“With Sebastian the relationship has always been good,” Leclerc insisted. “Last year there have been some tricky moments but our relationship stayed the same, which I think is a good thing.
“We are both mature enough to separate what happens on track and off track,” he added. “I am very good with him by my side.”
Ultimately though Leclerc didn’t want to put himself in the middle of discussions between Vettel and the team. “I will respect Ferrari’s decision in case they want to change.”
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto is insistent that he wants Vettel to remain with the team and says that contract negotiations should be relatively straightforward.
“Discussions with Sebastian have already started, they started before Christmas at the end of last year and continued here.”
One rumour that had been doing the rounds was that Vettel could end up going to Renault in 2021, with Daniel Ricciardo heading in the opposite direction to take up the vacant Ferrari seat in his place.
One thing that Leclerc isn’t a factor in any contract talks between Vettel and Binotto is his own extended agreement with the team.
“I feel very lucky to be in a position where I have a long-term contract and I am happy to be in this position,” the Monegasque told Motorsportweek.com.
“I also know [what it’s like to be] in his position, in a way, as my last two years I only had one-year contracts.
“I don’t think it will be destabilise him,” Leclerc added. “He is a very strong driver and I expect him to be strong anyway.”
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