Charles Leclerc could probably get out of his Ferrari contract ahead of time if he really wants to.
That is the view of Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko, who slammed wild online speculation in recent days suggesting Leclerc’s current teammate Carlos Sainz is being coveted by Audi.
“More or less anyone can put something online these days,” the 79-year-old top Red Bull official told Sport1.
Part of the recent Sainz rumour, which was denied by the Spaniard himself, is that the Leclerc camp may be pushing for a new teammate amid internal tensions.
“Reports can no longer be verified,” Marko insisted. “But why should Ferrari part ways with Carlos? That doesn’t make sense.
“Carlos is doing a good job. Ferrari has other problems than thinking about Sainz.”
According to Italian F1 insider Leo Turrini, however, it is an “open secret” that it is Leclerc who could be on the move as he is “negotiating with Mercedes”.
“Everyone knows about it, including in Maranello,” he wrote in his Quotidiano Nazionale column. “Leclerc understands that time is ticking and if Lewis Hamilton decides to leave, then Mercedes will want to get a champion-level driver to partner with George Russell.”
However, Leclerc is tied to Ferrari contractually until the end of 2024.
But Marko thinks the 25-year-old Monegasque would have a performance clause in his deal.
“These performance clauses are common today,” he said. “It roughly states that a driver must have a certain number of points at a certain point in the season, usually in late summer, in order for the contract to be automatically renewed.
“If this is not the case, both parties have the option of terminating. It was for this reason that Sebastian Vettel was able to switch to Ferrari so easily in 2015.”