Leclerc sees 'no risk' in long-term Ferrari deal, denies Red Bull rumour

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Charles Leclerc sees no risk in committing his long-term future to Ferrari despite not producing a front-running car.

The Monegasque made a big splash in his first season at the Scuderia in 2019, taking seven poles and two wins. But has only managed two poles and three podiums since the start of 2020 as Ferrari took a significant step back.

This season has been more promising with Ferrari fighting McLaren for third in the Constructors' Championship, while Leclerc could have won in Monaco and at Silverstone.

However, beating McLaren has become a secondary aim with Ferrari focusing on next year, when new regulations offer the chance to take a big step forward.

“The focus [is] on 2022 and I think this is clear for everyone," Leclerc told the Beyond the Grid F1 podcast recently. "2022 will be a huge opportunity for everyone with these new cars that are going to stay for many years after that.

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“This year we are still fighting with McLaren for third in the Constructors’, but at the end, we know our goal is to fight for the first position very soon and this will be from 2022 onwards and not this year.

“So I would be happy to give up third place in the Constructors in 2021 to be fighting for first place in 2022.”

Leclerc's commitment to Ferrari extends well beyond next year, with the 23-year-old currently signed until 2024, the joint-longest contract on the grid.

But given the problems that the Italian team has had in recent years, is Charles at risk of wasting his time at Maranello?

“I signed with Ferrari so I don’t call that a risk,” he said. “For me, it was an incredible opportunity.

"The first I knew I was going to be a Ferrari driver I could not believe it and it’s a dream for me. For me, it was not a risk. I was signing for five years for the team I’ve always been dreaming of.

“Sure we are going through a more difficult moment, but that only motivates me to push even more and bring it back to where it belongs.

“Of course I would be [willing to stay], but I would be even happier if we get back to winning because that’s what matters and I know that’s what matters to the whole team.

“We are pushing like crazy to try and come back to winning because that’s what this team is used to doing.”

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At the same time, however, a recent report in Italian media claimed Leclerc was "in a bit of a tizzy" about Ferrari's current performance, with a possible "dream team" pairing with Max Verstappen at Red Bull raised.

“The rumours about my hypothetical discontent are all nonsense,” he was quoted by Italy 24 News.

“I am calm at Maranello and there is a good synergy with Carlos Sainz. This allows us to work better and to concentrate as much as possible on a project in which I firmly believe.

“Lately we have managed to take the right path, managing to make a lot of progress compared to last season.

“I have extreme confidence in my team and I am currently happy with how things are developing.

“The goal we have set ourselves is to give our fans the same joy that the Italians felt after the victory at the European football championships.”