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Ferrari dismisses Albon F1 link as it holds fire on driver contract talks

Ferrari has rubbished talk that Alex Albon is being lined up to replace Carlos Sainz for 2025, as it insists Formula 1 driver contracts are not a priority right now.

Alex Albon, Williams Racing

Speculation in the Italian press last week suggested that Ferrari had set its sights on luring Albon on board for after Sainz’s current contract runs out at the end of next year.

However, Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur has dismissed the idea of any movement for Albon, who himself made it clear in recent weeks that his own focus is on a long-term future with Williams.

Vasseur, who knows Albon well from his time at the ART squad in GP3 and Formula 2, thinks the Thai driver is settled at Williams as he played down talk of Ferrari being on the hunt for a new driver.

Speaking to Autosport's sister Italian language website Motorsport.it about the Albon speculation, Vasseur said: “I don't know where this story came from. I've run Albon in the past, and we're friends.

“If a reporter asks me if Alex is currently doing a good job, I would say yes. But that doesn't mean I'm interested in taking him.

“I think Alex also has a contract with Williams for 2024. The team is investing a lot, so there is no problem.”

Vasseur has stated since he arrived at Maranello that he wanted to better understand the team and the way it worked before he started worrying about driver contracts, especially as both Sainz and Charles Leclerc have deals that run through to the end of 2024.

“I was clear with the team at the beginning of the season, and I was also clear with the drivers, that I need to get to know the team first. And it takes months," he said.

Vasseur previously ran Albon at ART in Formula 2, but has stressed he's not about to sign him to Ferrari in F1

Vasseur previously ran Albon at ART in Formula 2, but has stressed he's not about to sign him to Ferrari in F1

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“They still have a one-year contract, so I don't think it's an issue that needs to be discussed now. We'll certainly talk about it in the future, but it's not the first concern.

“The priority, for everyone, is to focus on the team, especially this season. I don't want there to be any distracting elements.”

Sainz and Leclerc appear to be a good match for each other on and off track, even though both of them have different approaches to F1.

Vasseur says that Leclerc has the capability to deliver some stand-out performances, but sometimes exposes himself to mistakes through over-driving.

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"Leclerc is capable of exceptional things,” explained Vasseur. “Sometimes he does things that you don't know where he got them from.

“Charles is a driver who always thinks about winning. Our car is behind the Red Bull, but he is still there thinking about trying to win.

“In certain situations, we have seen him push too much, and go into over-driving. He tries to compensate for the shortcomings with strategy, with being aggressive, and with the risk of making mistakes.

“My job is to direct him in the right way. When we have a car that is capable of taking second place, we have to take pride of place there. Of course, it's also right to look at what happens in front.”

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

Asked about Sainz’s performances, Vasseur added: “Carlos is very consistent. He is able to manage his own pace and does it a little better than Charles.

“He doesn't overdrive, but he doesn't have the big peaks of Charles, when, for example, he takes pole positions.

“Sometimes he is very close to him. In Miami, up to the last corner, he was on pole. He limits the bad mistakes and he's always there.”

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