Ferrari will not have a number one driver this season while team principal Frederic Vasseur waits to start talks with Charles Leclerc about his future.
Carlos Sainz edged out Leclerc in their first season as teammates in 2021 but Leclerc was more consistently competitive last year, finishing as runner-up to Max Verstappen in the drivers’ championship. Despite Verstappen’s status as Red Bull’s designated lead driver, Vasseur says he wants the two Ferrari drivers to remain on an equal footing until the championship situation might call for him to back one over the other.
“We have two very good drivers and both of them are able to do the job,” Vasseur said. “We will have the capacity to provide them with exactly the same car and the same structure and the same support. What is clear is that the target is to win with Ferrari and for Ferrari.
“There will be no number one and number two, but if at some stage I have to take action, I will take action. It doesn’t matter if it’s for one or the other, but if at one stage of the season I have to do something, I will do it.”
Both Ferrari drivers are out of contract at the end of 2024, but the fact Leclerc is three years younger than Sainz and has come through the team’s academy means renewing his contract is at the head of the queue with the hope of minimizing the opportunity for him to be poached by a rival. However, Vasseur says a new deal for Leclerc is not something he’s looking to address in the short term.
“I joined two weeks ago; we still have a couple of months of contract with Charles in front of us that I don’t want to put this topic on the table today,” he said. “I don’t think it would be a good way to start the collaboration. We have to be focused on the sporting side to get results.
“It’s like a (marriage), if both sides of the table are happy with the situation then we will continue, but I don’t think it’s the priority today. We have a good relationship and we will have time to discuss about this but firstly and I think the only topic today is that we have to be focused on pure performance and to get results.”
Vasseur was also keen to stress his admiration for Sainz, having initiated the process to sign him when he was working for Renault and also showing interest signing him at Sauber.
“I started the discussion with Carlos and his management when I was at Renault to attract him and sign the contract,” he said. “I can’t remember which year it was – 2017 or something like this – then he joined a bit later. And when I was at Sauber I tried to sign Carlos again without success, so I said, OK, if I want to attract Carlos the best way is to join the team he is in!
“We have always had a very good relationship and I trust him and I think he showed the last couple of years that he is a potential winner, and that is very important for the team. Again on this one, we won’t have a number one and a number two. The organization is crystal clear that they have to do their job and then if at one stage I have to take action for Carlos or for Charles, I will do.