“I went through that process both with Red Bull and Renault, and I know it’s not ideal as an athlete, and as a driver.
It’s just not the right thing. And that’s why I have put this winter as a reference to try and figure out my future.”
This stance was not at odds with Ferrari’s own preference too. Team boss Fred Vasseur had even made it clear during his annual Christmas lunch at Maranello that sorting both Ferrari drivers’ contracts out before racing going again was a clear “goal”.
“We met and started discussions, but we are a little behind the initial plan,” he said at the time. “I don’t consider it a problem at all, we will make a decision soon.”
While there are still five weeks to go before both Sainz and Ferrari’s provisional deadline is up, the fact that the team elected to go with Leclerc’s announcement alone – rather than wait and go public with both drivers at the same time – has prompted some to suggest that things may not be as completely nailed as hoped for.
It is understood that Sainz is after a two-year extension, to take him through to the end of the 2026 season, but an agreement still seems quite far away.
And while talks are ongoing, in the background there have been whispers that Alex Albon is a serious alternative with the Williams driver believed to be out of contract at the end of this year.
On one side it is entirely feasible that too much is being read into the situation over Ferrari announcing Leclerc alone because, unlike other squads, the team very rarely announces both drivers at the same time.
There also remains plenty of time for Ferrari, having got Leclerc’s situation sorted, to now nail Sainz’s deal and give the team total driver security for at least the next two years.