Charles Leclerc offers ‘clear’ response to rumours of Hamilton swap

Hamilton opens up on plans to remain in F1 ahead of new season

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Charles Leclerc has rejected claims he and Lewis Hamilton could switch seats in a major F1 shake-up. The pair both appear dissatisfied at their lack of performance at Ferrari and Mercedes respectively as both teams struggle to chase down Max Verstappen and Red Bull.

With both drivers’ contracts close to expiring, a switch would certainly be theoretically possible. However, Leclerc appeared to squash the rumours ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

He said: “It’s the first time I’ve heard all these voices from outside since I’ve been at Ferrari. Maybe someone wants to destabilise us. I’m in red, and I think it’s quite obvious how much I love Ferrari, and how much I want to win with Ferrari.

“There’s not much more to say. For me it’s pretty clear.” Italian media have reported an increase in tensions at the Scuderia after a dismal start to the 2023 season.

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Leclerc was forced to take a 10-place grid penalty for Jeddah after retiring with a mechanical failure in Bahrain. Leclerc is understood to have held a private meeting with Ferrari president John Elkann between races to discuss the team’s future.

There have also been suggestions that race director Laurent Mekies may leave the squad after disagreements. Leclerc denied the suggestions in Jeddah and stressed any rumours of a rift were “unfounded”.

Meanwhile, Hamilton has yet to put pen to paper on a new multi-year deal at Mercedes despite Toto Wolff previously suggesting this would be done over the winter. The seven-time champion has appeared stunned by Mercedes’ lack of performance for a second successive campaign.

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On Friday, Wolff accepted Mercedes could lose Hamilton’s services if they were unable to give him a fast enough package. Hamilton has previously claimed it is every driver’s dream to race for the Prancing Horse.

Sky Sports host Simon Lazenby said he would not rule out Hamilton moving to another team and tipped Ferrari to be Hamilton’s only front-running option. But, the 38-year-old has also appeared to downplay any prospect of that move as he pledged his future to the Silver Arrows.

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