Charles Leclerc says he is not in talks with Mercedes “at the moment” about a move to the Brackley based team.
The rumours have been bolstered by Ferrari’s poor start to 2023, but also Red Bull chief Dr Helmut Marko’s claim that Leclerc can probably escape his contract before the end of 2024.
“These performance clauses are common today,” he said.
Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur freely admits that Leclerc, 25, is “frustrated” about what the driver says was a “disaster” of a start to 2023.
“Frustration is good,” said Vasseur. “I’d be disappointed if Charles wasn’t frustrated.
“We had a discussion to understand what should be corrected and we improve every weekend. You can’t blame Charles for being disappointed.”
Presumably, Leclerc would be drafted in to replace seven time world champion Lewis Hamilton, whose contract talks with Toto Wolff are delayed.
Hamilton says it would be no surprise if Wolff was speaking to other drivers.
“I think maybe some of the drivers will speak or have relationships with different bosses and stuff,” said the 38-year-old.
But I like where I am, I love my team and I think I’m grateful for the journey we’ve been on and what we’re working on moving forward.
“So it doesn’t have any impact,” Hamilton said when asked about the Leclerc rumours.
Leclerc himself, however, only offered a qualified denial when also asked about the Mercedes rumours at Baku.
“No, there is nothing at the moment,” said the Monegasque. “I’m focused on the project I’m currently working on.
“I didn’t have any conversations with Toto Wolff. You (reporters) smile because you do not believe, but later you will see it for yourself.
“I love Ferrari and am fully committed to the team. As I have already said, I have full confidence and I am confident for the future.
“After that, we will see.”
Vasseur, meanwhile, insisted that despite the perception that Leclerc is equal number 1 with Carlos Sainz, the most successful teams are “always built around the driver”.
“If you look at recent years, all the success stories have been those of a team built around a driver,” said the Frenchman.
“Hamilton in Mercedes, Michael in Ferrari, Alonso in Renault, the same in Red Bull. I could give many examples.
“So Charles is an important pillar of the performance. He has a role both in the car and out, and I am convinced of his dedication to the cause.”