F1: Charles Leclerc offers intriguing response to Lewis Hamilton replacement rumours

F1: Charles Leclerc offers intriguing response to Lewis Hamilton replacement rumours

Charles Leclerc has denied rumours he is in discussion with rivals Mercedes about replacing Lewis Hamilton, but his “not yet” comment is unlikely to dampen speculation.

Ferrari driver Leclerc has scored only six points from three races so far, retiring twice. A year ago he won two of the first three and was second in the other before Ferrari's challenge fell apart due to a lack of reliability, botched strategy and driver errors.

“No, there have not been any conversations. Not yet. Not for the moment,” the Monegasque told reporters ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku when asked about media speculation in Italy that his discussions with former champions Mercedes were an open secret.

“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.

“It has always been a dream for me to be in this team and my main priority is to win a world championship with this team. So it's not something in my mind.

“I'm fully committed to Ferrari and I love Ferrari.”

Asked if Mercedes boss Toto Wolff had called him, Leclerc replied: “No. Zero. Zero. Really zero. You all smile because you don't believe me, but I promise.”

Leclerc has a contract to the end of 2024 and Mercedes are in contract extension talks with seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton, who will be 39 next January and whose current deal runs out at the end of this year.

Hamilton, who was second in the previous race in Australia, said the speculation about Leclerc's future had no impact on him.

“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,” he told reporters.

Additional reporting by Reuters.