Charles Leclerc has reiterated his desire to sign a new contract with Ferrari but said the team’s priority is currently on finding a remedy for its underperforming car.
Leclerc’s Ferrari contract expires at the end of 2024 and the Italian team’s failure to provide him with a championship calibre car has prompted speculation he might look elsewhere for his next deal.
There were rumours earlier this year he could replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes but Leclerc has been consistent in saying he wants to stay put.
“I have always loved Ferrari and I would love to stay,” Leclerc told the BBC. “I’ve always made it very clear that my goal is to try to be a world champion, but firstly with Ferrari.
“I know how difficult it is. We are not in the easiest situation. There is a big gap to fill to get to Red Bull’s level but Ferrari has helped me before I got into F1, believed in me and put me into the Ferrari seat very early on, and it’s always a team that I’ve loved.
“My priority is to win with Ferrari and it is not my worry whether I won’t achieve it or whatever. We just need to work on the team and try to improve it as much as possible, and I hope that I can achieve that one day.”
Leclerc joined Ferrari in 2019.
Ferrari started 2022 strongly, with Leclerc winning two of the first three races, but saw its championship challenge through a series of strategic blunders and driver mistakes through the year.
This year the team has fallen further off the pace, with McLaren and Aston Martin making big gains and joining Ferrari and Mercedes in the chasing pack behind red Bull.
Leclerc said the team’s attention is currently focused on improving that situation.
On the subject of talks with Ferrari, he said: “There are some jokes here and there, but no serious talks yet.”
“Honestly, I am not in a rush. I don’t think Ferrari’s priority is signing me at the moment, which is understandable because we are all just focused on trying to have the best race car possible as quickly as possible.
“I understand that. So for now we are just focusing on the season. I am sure talks will arrive at one point during the season, probably a bit later on.”
On the driver market front, Hamilton is still yet to sign a new contract with Mercedes beyond this year, but a deal is widely believed to be on the verge of being completed.