Leclerc 'happy' to keep Vettel as Ferrari teammate amid rumours

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Charles Leclerc has again voiced his support for Ferrari to keep Sebastian Vettel alongside him for another year at least.

The past week has seen mixed messages on the future of the four-time world champion after he stated last week he saw a strong possibility for a new deal to be agreed before the new Formula 1 season finally begins.

That was countered a few days ago, however, with Italian media claiming Vettel had rejected a one-year offer from Ferrari worth just 12m Euros, 30 percent of his current annual salary.

Still, as names like Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz are again mentioned as possible alternatives, Leclerc insists, despite some early bumps, he would welcome Vettel's stay at Maranello.

“I am very happy with Seb,” the Monegasque told select media earlier via video conference this week.

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“It (the relationship) was good even though we’ve had some few problems on the track, like in Brazil.

“I think it has always been a good relationship even though from the outside it was probably not seen as it was but it’s always been good between us.”

At the same time, however...

“I will respect Ferrari’s decision for whoever is next to me," Leclerc added, "at the end, it’s my job to adapt to the person next to me and you can always learn from whoever is your teammate.

“I will welcome anybody but if Seb stays I will definitely be happy.”

The main area of contention regarding a new deal though may not actually be the hefty pay cut but instead, the length of the contract, with speculation Vettel is looking for at least two years.

Former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher though does believe Seb could back down and sign just for 2021.

“Last season was of course not quite optimal,” he told Sky Deutschland.

“Ferrari is currently going through a difficult phase and of course are trying to optimise everything, so I believe that something like that [contract] is possible, especially in these times."

As for Vettel's alternatives...

“The question is whether he wants to go for the World Championship or does he want to build something new?" Schumacher continued.

“McLaren is on the right track, so that would be possible, but they are also quite some way away and they also have an imminent change of engine, so it’s difficult.

“I think if he stays there [at Ferrari] for a year, he would be in good hands.

“Of course he has to feel supported by the whole team. Once you no longer feel that you are being supported, a driver has to leave that team.”