End of year ‘big chaos’ disrupted Ferrari driver contract talks

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Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur says the demanding end to the 2023 F1 season disrupted the team’s contract talks with Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

Both drivers have existing deals that extend until the end of 2024, but they are both hoping for an early clarification of their future with the Scuderia.

In the back half of the season, Vasseur expressed the team's intention to finalize the contracts by the end of this year.

However, with no confirmation forthcoming, a report recently emerged suggesting that Leclerc had signed a lucrative five-year deal worth up to €50 million annually.

Vasseur has now clarified that the intense and "very demanding" concluding stages of the 2023 F1 season forced the Scuderia to temporarily shelve discussions with its drivers.

“They are under contract with us until the end of 2024. It means that we have still 13 months in front of us,” Vasseur told the media last week in Maranello.

“It's quite comfortable. We have still a lot of weeks and months in front of us.

“I told [the press] that I will try to take a decision before the end of the year. I have to admit that the last part of the season was a big chaos for everybody. I think that it was very demanding.

“We had meetings and we started the discussion, but we are late compared to the initial plan.

“But it's not an issue at all. We are much in advanced compared to Mercedes [announcing new deals for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell in late August].

“We are easy on this and will take the decision soon.”

Ferrari’s decision to prioritize Leclerc’s financial package over Sainz’s suggests once again that there is a clear hierarchy at the Scuderia.

But Vasseur dismissed such a conclusion, insisting that both drivers are treated equally.

"We showed this season that we have a more than equal treatment between the drivers,” contended the Frenchman.

“I remember perfectly that one year ago that I had tons of questions about Charles number one and Carlos number two and blah, blah, blah, blah…

“It's not that we have a number one, the bigger asset. We have two drivers. They are doing a good job…

“I think one of the good point of the season is that they score almost the same number of points.

“I will consider this year in the same way to give them exactly the same level.”

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