Leclerc leaves F1 hero baffled as Ferrari driver ‘playing games’ with Mercedes

Hamilton opens up on plans to remain in F1 ahead of 2023 season

Charles Leclerc is “playing games” with Mercedes over the destination of his F1 future, according to Johnny Herbert. The ex-F1 star claims Leclerc’s refusal to rule out signing for the Silver Arrows was “interesting” but questioned its validity.

Leclerc has been linked to a move to the German marque in recent weeks as Lewis Hamilton is yet to sign a new deal at Mercedes. But Herbert warned that a move to the eight-time Constructors’ Champions could be a backwards step for the Monegasque driver.

Herbert told Express Sport: “I know Charles has not been denying anything about the Merc seat. That’s interesting as well. This is got to be a little bit of a game. Why would you go somewhere that’s not going to give you what you need? Probably worse.

“Why would you want to go somewhere that’s not showing a better result than one you’re already in.” Ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, reports from Italy suggested it was an “open secret” that Leclerc was speaking to Mercedes.

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The 25-year-old said he had not started discussions with the squad but didn’t confirm he would never make a move away from Ferrari. He commented: “No, not yet. Not for the moment

“For now, I am fully focused on the project I am in today, which is Ferrari and I fully trust and am confident for the future. Then we will see, but I am fully confident for the project of Ferrari.”

When pushed on if he had received a call from Wolff over a possible move, Leclerc added: “No. Zero. Zero. Really zero.

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“You all smile because you don’t believe me, but I promise.” Hamilton has continued to pledge his future to the German constructor despite his contract expiring at the end of 2023.

Hamilton has stressed he had no plans to leave the team with Wolff also revealing the team had “no plan B” other than retaining the Briton. The seven-time champion later reacted to the speculation but felt the rumours would not affect getting his own future secured.

He remarked: “No, not really, I think maybe some of the drivers all have different relationships with different bosses and stuff. I like where I am, I love my team, and I’m grateful for the journey we’ve been on and what we’re working on moving forwards. So, it doesn’t have any impact, no.”

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