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Vasseur admits call to Sainz over Hamilton's Ferrari move was ‘one of the most difficult’ of his life

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Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur has admitted breaking the news to Carlos Sainz, that he would be replaced at the team by Lewis Hamilton in 2025, was one of the “most difficult” of his life.

At the beginning of February it was announced that Hamilton will join the squad next year on a multi-year deal, meaning he will partner Charles Leclerc after the Monegasque signed a new contract extension with the Scuderia.

ANALYSIS: Ferrari are fully focused on 2024 – but it’s impossible to avoid talking about Lewis Hamilton

This left Sainz – who has raced for the outfit since 2021 – without a seat. While the Spaniard has acknowledged that it has not been the “best feeling to start with the season”, he has also stressed that his goal will be to do his “best” with Ferrari in the year ahead.

When asked at Ferrari’s launch of their 2024 car about signing Hamilton, Vasseur explained why the announcement was made early, as well as reiterating his belief that Sainz will remain “fully committed” to the team for the upcoming season.

“We are fully focused on 2024, as you can imagine,” said Vasseur. "[But regarding] Lewis, it’s a huge opportunity for the team, for sure. We’re sure it will bring us a decent step for the future. It will be a good challenge for everybody.

"But we want to be focused on 2024, we don’t want to have any kind of distraction, and that’s why we made the announcement so early, because it was important for us to be focused on 2024.

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Fred Vasseur on 'good winter' and keeping positive momentum into the 2024 season

“I’m fully convinced Carlos will be fully dedicated and fully committed until the last lap and the last corner of the season. I’m sure that all of the team will be fully motivated and fully behind Carlos, he did a great job for us so far.

"Now it’s important for us to be focused on 2024. We have a good opportunity. We’ve worked so hard on the project that I don’t want to have any kind of distraction.”

In terms of how Sainz took the news, that he would be losing his position at the team, Vasseur acknowledges that this was a challenging discussion to have.

READ MORE: Leclerc offers reaction to Hamilton being signed by Ferrari as his new team mate

“As you can imagine, it was not the easiest call of my life,” the Frenchman commented. “One of the most difficult, [along] with the one with Toto [Wolff]! But I’m fully convinced that he is a very professional driver, that he understands that we have a long season in front of us, [that it’s] a huge opportunity.

“In this situation [he has] the team behind him. We had a long discussion, as you can imagine, [and] I will be fully supportive with Carlos. He’s fully committed and we know that we are to do the job together. We are professional.”

Ferrari's Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Jr (L) sprays champagne as he celebrates on the podium after

Sainz will be replaced by Hamilton at Ferrari in 2025

On whether there was any sense of it being “unfair” on Sainz, Vasseur responded: “Unfair... I don’t know if that’s the right word. For the team, the opportunity with Lewis is something you have to consider in any case. He’s the guy with the biggest experience, it’s a huge opportunity for us. It has nothing to do with Carlos.

“Carlos did a great job last year, I’m sure that he will do a great job next year, that he is very professional, we have a good relationship. But it is like it is and we have to be focused on the future.”

FIRST LOOK: Ferrari unveil new SF-24 car ahead of the 2024 season

While there are big changes ahead for Ferrari beyond 2024, Vasseur has denied that the upcoming season is one of “transition” for the Italian outfit.

“No, this is wrong,” the Team Principal said. “2024 won’t be a transition year. It’s quite an important season for us. I’m fully focused on this. I think the best way to prepare for something is to do a good job.

“We are focused on 2024, we want to get the best, we want to win races, continue on the path of 2023 and we won’t be at all thinking about 2025.”

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