MARCH 17, 2023
Top F1 stars play down team switch rumours
Three Formula 1 drivers have played down claims they may be shaping up to leave their current teams.
Lando Norris signed a long McLaren contract extension last year, but that was actually prior to the team's disappointing 2022 campaign - and an even worse start to this season.
Some are talking about a McLaren 'crisis' - and linking Norris, 23, with a sensational move to Mercedes or Ferrari for 2024.
"I guess I'm fine with it to an extent," the British driver said when asked about the rumours, "apart from when it's just complete BS."
One race seat Norris may be eyeing is Charles Leclerc's at Ferrari - particularly amid rumours the Monaco-born driver requested an urgent meeting with executive chairman John Elkann after Bahrain.
"There have been loads of rumours around the team," Leclerc said. "90 percent of them are completely unfounded.
"I don't know from where it is coming from and to be honest I don't want to even spend any energy on trying to find where it's coming from.
"Of course it wasn't the ideal start that I wished I had, but what can I do about it?"
As for the 'unfounded' rumours, Leclerc speculates that someone may be trying to "destabilise" the Maranello based team.
"But I wear red, I love Ferrari and I want to win again with this team," he told Italian media.
Finally, if both Norris and Leclerc are looking to make a team move for 2024, another obvious top seat is the one occupied by seven time world champion Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.
After Bahrain, where the extent to the team's ongoing struggles with its unique car concept became clear, 38-year-old Hamilton alleged that Mercedes did not listen to his feedback last year.
"I mean, in hindsight, it wasn't necessarily the best choice of words," Hamilton said on Thursday.
"I still have 100 percent belief in this team, it is my family and I've been here a long time. So I don't plan on going anywhere else," he insisted.