Rumours - Leclerc signs with Ferrari, Sainz with Audi
"Where else should he go?"
Charles Leclerc looks set to stay at Ferrari beyond his 2024 contract - but there is an even bigger question mark over the future of his teammate.
Russian F1 commentator Alexey Popov said on his podcast that he has heard multiple reports from Italy that Leclerc has agreed to extend his stay.
The reports suggest Leclerc has signed a new two-year deal for 2025 and 2026 with a further option for three additional years - worth a total of about EUR 185 million.
"Where else should he go?" Popov wonders. "There are no available places in teams where he can become champion.
"We know from history that there are stories like Brawn GP, but it is almost impossible to calculate this in advance. So in Leclerc’s place, it’s better to stay at Ferrari and hope that the wind changes direction there."
At the same time, there are rumours that Leclerc’s current teammate Carlos Sainz has actually signed some sort of pre-agreement with Audi - the VW-owned marque that is teaming up with Sauber for 2026 and beyond.
Meanwhile, the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf - close to the Max Verstappen camp - claims that Red Bull may be shaping up to trigger a clause in Sergio Perez’s contract to reduce his pay from 2024.
The clause may hinge on Perez’s huge 125-point deficit to Verstappen at the mid-point of the season.
Those rumours come as a Mexican businessman close to the Perez camp questioned whether the 33-year-old is enjoying equal treatment to Max at Red Bull.
"I have no doubt that Max Verstappen is the best driver on the grid," said Elias Ayub, CEO of the Telmex Foundation and married to the daughter of Perez’s chief Mexican sponsor Carlos Slim.
"But that Max is more than 20 seconds ahead of Checo in P2 can only be because Verstappen’s car is much faster than the other car," Ayub is quoted by Marca Mexico.
"That much of a difference cannot be the driver alone," he insisted.
More on Ferrari