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Leclerc on Mercedes F1 radar for long-term but not now, says Wolff

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Charles Leclerc is definitely a long-term option for his Formula 1 team, but has ruled out any imminent move for the Ferrari ace. 

Sprint pole winner Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari

Speculation emerged in recent weeks that Leclerc was in talks with Mercedes as it ponders a possible replacement if Lewis Hamilton does not stay in to next year.

But Leclerc himself denied there had been any contact with Mercedes nor its boss Wolff – although he intriguingly added the word ‘yet’ at the end of his sentence. 

Speaking at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Wolff himself also rubbished suggestions that dialogue had opened between the team and the Monegasque driver.

However, he said it would be foolish of the squad to ignore Leclerc as an option for the longer term. 

“Charles is a super guy and, for the long-term future, someone you need to always have on your radar. And that's clear. But not for the short and the medium term.” 

Wolff explained that the only time he had personally spoken to Leclerc recently was when they bumped in to each other at Melbourne airport on their return from the Australian Grand Prix. 

Leclerc’s current deal at Ferrari runs until the end of the 2024 season, with current Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton out of contract at the end of this year. 

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“I think nobody doubts Charles' ability. He is a good guy,” added Wolff.

“The only time I talked with him was when we discussed where the gate is in Melbourne when we boarded the plane. No contact otherwise. 

“I think he's 100% committed and loyal to Ferrari with his contract. And in the same way we are 100% committed to putting pen to paper with Lewis.” 

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Mercedes and Hamilton have yet to sit down and sort a contract extension, with their focus in recent weeks having been in trying to address the problems the team is facing with its W14. 

But even though Mercedes has fallen short of the title ambitions that Hamilton wants, Wolff thinks the team still offers enough to keep the seven-time champion interested in staying. 

“I think he feels very much that he's strong, and we feel the same,” he said.

“We are not going to race for a drivers’ championship this year. That is what it looks like at the moment. And we just need to give him a car that can do that.  

“Hopefully we can get our package to a winning package this season and then have something that can bring him his eighth title. 

“I've no doubt that he's motivated to achieve that. So that's what he loves to do. That is his ability. We have a great relationship, personally myself with him and within the team. It's one of the strong pillars in the last 10 years. So we're in a really good place.”  

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