While Charles Leclerc says his “priority” is to stay and win with Ferrari, he cannot yet quash exit reports as the team are still to make their first move in regards to a contract extension.
Leclerc is the driver who rather broke the mould for Ferrari, as a team which more commonly went for experienced names, promoted their Driver Academy graduate to their line-up for 2019 after a single season of F1 experience.
From that point on Leclerc has established himself as one of the most highly-rated talents on the F1 grid, by this stage a five-time race winner with 20 pole positions to his name, but Ferrari are yet to provide the machinery that could allow Leclerc to show whether he truly is World Champion material.
Charles Leclerc “in the dark” over Ferrari stance
F1 2023 has been another testing campaign for the relationship between Leclerc and Ferrari as the talk of a title push failed to materialise, and with Leclerc’s contract due to expire at the end of the 2024 campaign, Mercedes and Aston Martin are both teams which Leclerc has been linked with jumping ship to.
Leclerc right now hopes the Ferrari exit door will not be needed, but unsure how the team see him fitting into their future, the Monegasque driver cannot say with confidence that he will be staying.
“The rumours that put me in other teams just means that I’m doing my job well,” Leclerc is widely quoted as having told Corriere dello Sport.
“But I’m indifferent about them because I know what I want. I still don’t know what Ferrari wants from me.
“The discussions about the contract haven’t started yet, but everything is clear to me, I love Ferrari and I want to win here. That is my priority.”
Leclerc and Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur, who arrived ahead of the F1 2023 campaign, were already very familiar with each other before this Ferrari reunion, with Vasseur having been Leclerc’s team boss at Sauber in his rookie 2018 campaign.
And further convincing Leclerc that he wants to remain at Ferrari is that the duo are “aligned” on their vision for the future, as Ferrari plot their way back to the F1 summit having not experienced title glory since 2008.
Put to him that his close ties to Vasseur would play a pivotal role in remaining with Ferrari, Leclerc replied: “Yes, apart from the love for Ferrari that has always existed and continues to exist, I share many things with Fred, and many of them have to do with plans for the future. We are aligned.
“I know what is coming and I have faith.”
Ferrari sit P4 in the current Constructors’ Championship standings, 88 points ahead of McLaren and just five behind Aston Martin in P3.