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F1 Rumor: Charles Leclerc Is Why Carlos Sainz Was Fired, Fred Vasseur’s True Reason Revealed

Published 03/02/2024, 6:23 AM EST

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It’s just one last season with Ferrari, and then it’s goodbye for Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard will leave the team after driving with them for four years and be replaced by Lewis Hamilton. Driving for Ferrari is a dream almost every F1 driver has while growing up. In 2025, as Hamilton fulfills that dream of his, unfortunately, it’ll be the end of Sainz’s dream with the Italian outfit. But why?

Ferrari had bigger plans with Lewis Hamilton, with more in store for him than just the regular driving duties. He’s reportedly got a deal worth around half a billion dollars to become the brand ambassador for the company. But just as the Smooth Operator hoped to strengthen his bond with Ferrari further, the Maranello team decided to strengthen its brand. And Sainz got the bitter end of the deal. But why wasn’t it Charles Leclerc who got replaced?

It’s all about the timing in F1

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Just as it decides the fate of a driver on the track, it was the timing that didn’t work out for Sainz. Sky Sports F1 presenter Ted Kravitz was curious to know what made Frederic Vassuer choose Leclerc over Sainz, and so was the world. After qualifying at the Bahrain GP, the Ferrari Team Principal talked to Kravitz.

Per a tweet about the conversation, “Charles Leclerc was already there in terms of signing a deal. And therefore, the only person to miss out after a deal not being reached was Carlos Sainz.” What this may suggest is that if the Spaniard had signed a contract before Leclerc did, he could’ve been the one to stay. It’s important to note that before Leclerc signed a multi-year extension with Ferrari a few weeks ago, there were speculations that he’d signed a 2+3 year contract with the Scuderia.

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When these rumors started floating around, there were speculations that Carlos Sainz hoped to sign a similar deal that would keep him at Ferrari post-2024. Evidently, that didn’t happen. However, letting Sainz go was quite a tough decision for Vasseur. In an interview with F1, he revealed, “It wasn’t the easiest call of my life, as you can imagine. We built a very good relationship with Carlos over the seasons.” After all, the Spaniard was the one who gave Vasseur his first win with Ferrari at the 2023 Singapore GP.

With 24 races still to come for Sainz at Ferrari, Vasseur added, “We’ve taken the commitment to do the best for 2024. I’m sure that he will push until the last corner of the last lap of the season.” Showing his commitment to Sainz as well, the Frenchman said, “He can be sure that I will do the same, and I will be more that supportive with Carlos.”

Although being replaced will hurt, Sainz has one more season to cherish being a driver for the most successful team in F1. As he does that, all eyes will be on the battle between him and Charles Leclerc. It begs the question, though. What else – other than the contract signing – made Ferrari retain Leclerc?

Ferrari chose its ‘Golden Boy’ over Carlos Sainz

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Ever since Charles Leclerc made it to F1 in 2018, he was destined to make it to Ferrari. After driving for Alfa Romeo in his rookie season, he made the step up to the Scuderia in 2019. And since then, he’s been the team’s ‘Golden Boy,’ the driver they want to build themselves around. When it comes to his driving skills, he’s arguably the fastest driver on the grid in terms of one-lap pace.

His ability to go wheel-to-wheel in battles with the likes of Max Verstappen – and keep them clean most times – and his aggressive driving style prove he has what it takes to win championships. Being the driver with the longest contract in Ferrari’s history, the fact that his life goal is to win a championship wearing Scarlet Red is an added bonus.

Carlos Sainz has demonstrated his worth time and again, especially with a victory for Ferrari in a season utterly dominated by Red Bull. Despite stepping up in the second half of the 2023 season with his consistent performances and being the team leader Ferrari needed, the Scuderia believes its future lies with Charles Leclerc. Comparing Sainz and Leclerc, they exhibit differing preferences in car setup, which can complicate Ferrari’s development efforts.

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Leclerc favors a pointy, oversteer-dominant car, while Sainz prefers the opposite. This disparity can hinder the team’s progress in optimizing the car’s performance. Considering how erratic Ferrari has been in the past few seasons, it’s understandable that Vasseur wanted a more synergized approach. And with Lewis Hamilton – who also prefers oversteer – joining in 2025, the team boss may just get that.

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Written by:

Viren Mirpuri

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Viren Mirpuri is an F1 Writer at EssentiallySports. With a Degree in Mass Media and a Specialization in Journalism, Viren is known for his speedy race day coverage outside of discussing the engine technicalities. Whether he's dissecting the latest technical innovations or unraveling the drama on and off the track, he ensures that his readers stay engaged and informed.
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Edited by:

Tushhita Barua