Charles Leclerc says he’d be happy to see Sebastian Vettel stay at Ferrari but would support any decision the team makes on who will be his teammate in the future.

After a breakthrough maiden Formula 1 campaign as a Ferrari driver last year, Leclerc has been rewarded with a long-term contract which keeps him at the Scuderia until at least the end of 2024.

While the 22-year-old’s future is assured, Vettel’s existing Ferrari deal expires at the end of this year which has put questions around the four-time F1 world champion’s place at the team.

Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto moved to quieten speculation by confirming Vettel was the team’s first choice to partner Leclerc going into 2021 and contract negotiations have already begun.

“Discussions with Sebastian have already started, they started before Christmas at the end of last year and continued here,” Binotto said.

Leclerc accepts he has endured “some tricky moments” as Vettel’s team-mate, with the pair facing off multiple times on track before it came to a head last year when the pair crashed out together in Brazil, but feels their working relationship remains strong and beneficial for Ferrari.

“With Sebastian the relationship has always been good, last year there have been some tricky moments but our relationship stayed the same, which I think is a good thing,” Leclerc said.

“I think we are both mature enough to do the separation on what happens on track and off track.

“I feel very lucky to be in a position where I have a long-term contract and I am happy to be in this position. I also know in his position, in a way, as my last two years I only had one-year contracts. I don’t think it will be destabilise him. He is a very strong driver and I expect him to be strong anyway.”

Leclerc acknowledges the decision remains in the hands of the Ferrari bosses and he says he would support any outcome regarding his future teammate.

“I am very good with him by my side but I will respect Ferrari’s decision in case they want to change,” he said.

In recent weeks rumours have linked Daniel Ricciardo to Ferrari if he loses patience at Renault over its progress to climb the F1 pecking order and deliver him a package capable of fighting for the world title.

 

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