Ferrari boss speaks out on signing Verstappen as Leclerc and Sainz doubts emerge
Max Verstappen sent offer to quit Red Bull and join F1 rival keen to be his team-mate
Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur replied “never say never” when asked about the prospect of Max Verstappen joining the team from Red Bull in the future. Current drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz both have contracts for one more season, but uncertainty is surrounding the team as no new deals appear on the horizon.
Vasseur previously indicated that new contracts for both Leclerc and Sainz would be agreed by the end of the year, but has since compared their situation to Lewis Hamilton’s at Mercedes and how his saga continued to drag on longer than expected.
Reports had previously claimed that Leclerc agreed a bumper new deal until 2029 with the team he came through the academy with, but until pen has been put to paper that suggestion remains just speculation.
Leclerc and Sainz finished fifth and seventh respectively in the 2023 drivers’ standings in a disappointing season that also saw the team finish behind Red Bull and Mercedes in third in the constructors’ championship – 454 points behind Christian Horner’s side.
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Verstappen’s dominant season would have any team principal envious, but with the future of Ferrari’s two drivers unknown Vasseur has made it clear that the door is open if the Dutchman wants to leave Red Bull one day – although that does appear very unlikely at this stage.
When asked about the prospect of Verstappen racing for Ferrari in the future, Vasseur told Formu1a: “Never say never.” He did then add: “I think that if you ask the 10 team principals on the grid, all they would be happy to have Max,” before admitting that he was not even sure when Verstappen’s Red Bull contract expires.
Verstappen has a deal with Red Bull until 2028 and has shown no indication of wanting to leave the reigning champions. Meanwhile, Vasseur also opened up on past discussions with Hamilton before the Brit penned his new deal with Mercedes.
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“I’ve been talking to 20 years with Lewis,” he added. “As I speak with most of the grid who has already driven for me. In Baku we had a discussion and everything started from there. If he signed a contract for every time we speak to each other, it would cost me a fortune.”
Though it is extremely unlikely that Verstappen will leave Red Bull before the 2024 season, Vasseur has cast further doubt over the future of Leclerc and Sainz. He pointed to Hamilton’s long contract negotiations and insisted that there was no rush over extending their contracts.
“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.”
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