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The next Formula 1 silly season could be exactly that: silly. Very silly. Especially with rumors bouncing around that Lewis Hamilton might want to move to Ferrari, and now that Charles Leclerc may want to dash over to the Silver Arrows.
Although, he says that’s not true.
According to ESPN’s Nate Saunders, Italian news website Quotidiano Nazionale said that the fact that Leclerc had spoken to Mercedes was an “open secret.”
Ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Leclerc himself was asked about the rumblings that he might seek greener pastures at Mercedes and insisted such talks had not happened.
“No, not yet,” the Monagasque said. “Not for the moment.
“For now, I am fully focused on the project I am in today, which is Ferrari and I fully trust and am confident for the future. Then we will see, but I am fully confident for the project of Ferrari.”
Ferrari’s sluggish start is what led to the rumors that Leclerc might look to jump ship. His current deal with the Scuderia runs through 2024.
Ferrari Needs To Earn Leclerc’s Loyalty
While Leclerc said he fully believes in the direction Ferrari is headed, the team needs to show up for him. They’ll need to earn his confidence in the weeks to come by showing considerable progress. Especially after a disappointing first three races in 2023.
However, a move to Mercedes makes a lot of sense. It’s arguably the only move he could make if he wants to go to a championship-capable team.
Perhaps for this reason, reporters asked him again whether or not he had spoken to Mercedes boss Toto Wolffe about an opportunity with the team.
“No. Zero. Zero. Really zero. You all smile because you don’t believe me, but I promise,” he said. “Again, I’m fully committed to Ferrari and I love Ferrari.
“It has always been a dream for me to be in this team and my main priority is to win a world championship with this team. So it’s not something in my mind.”
Leclerc came up through the Ferrari Driver Academy and made his F1 debut at Sauber. At the time, that team was run by current Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur.
His loyalty to the team runs deep, but that loyalty needs to be reciprocated by the team in the form of a car and support worthy of vying for championships.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle