Charles Leclerc’s not-so-subtle warning to Lewis Hamilton with silence broken

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc looks on in the Ferrari garage at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc will have a new team-mate in 2025 with Lewis Hamilton arriving at Ferrari.

Although making no mention of Lewis Hamilton’s Ferrari move, Charles Leclerc has made it abundantly clear he’s not in Formula 1 to finish second to anyone, he wants to win the World title.

Last month Ferrari confirmed Leclerc had signed an extension that would keep him with the Maranello team beyond the 2024 season.

However, a week later they shocked the paddock when they announced it isn’t Carlos Sainz who will be his 2025 team-mate, it’s Hamilton.

‘I’m only happy when I win, second place is not my target’

The seven-time World Champion will join Ferrari after his 12th and final season with Mercedes having signed a multi-year deal.

But while pundits have pondered how Leclerc would’ve taken the news, Corriere dello Sport claiming he is “shocked and disappointed by Ferrari’s decision”, there was no sign of that as he gave his first interview since Hamilton’s confirmation.

Instead, there was just a subtle warning that he’s not here to be second best to anyone.

“To win the championship, this is the only target I have. I’m only happy when I win, second place is not my target,” he said as per the Daily Mail.

“You need to give yourself realistic targets as well, as much as we are always optimistic and try to do the best job possible.

“We all want to win but looking at where we are starting from from last year, Red Bull had a big advantage. So now we need to close the gap as much as possible.

“So we will do absolutely everything to try and, and do the step that, that is our goal in order to challenge.”

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Charles Leclerc touches on ‘very special’ Carlos Sainz relationship

Hamilton’s arrival next season will herald the end of Leclerc’s four-year partnership with Sainz.

Although the Monégasque driver has come out tops in two of their three years together, Sainz has run him close and was the only one of the team-mates to win a Grand Prix last season when he was P1 in Singapore.

In fact, the Spanish was the only non-Red Bull driver to win all season.

“We have a very special relationship,” Leclerc said. “I mean, we are obviously friends outside the track as well. We are sharing good moments.

“We spend so much time. I mean, I see Carlos more than my own family because we’ve got 24 races now.”

Charles Leclerc wary after past ‘mis-correlations’

Ferrari will unveil their 2024 challenger, the SF-24, in an online event on Tuesday 13 February.

The Scuderia have yet to confirm if that will be followed by a shakedown run at their Fiorano circuit.

But while the driver, a five-time Grand Prix winner, is happy with what he’s experienced to date in the simulator, “mis-correlations” have happened in the past.

“I’m just super excited because there’s so much work going on at the moment,” Leclerc continued. “As I was saying, we started to develop the new car many months ago already, virtually first on the simulator in Maranello, then we see the first part physical parts.

“I saw the car yesterday, not fully painted yet, but the first model of it.

“So already there you start to get excited and then we get to drive the car for the first time around the launch, which will be next week, which again, I’m really looking forward to.

“There are lots of question marks. Of course, we have driven the car but then all the remains to be seen in reality, whether everything fits what we’ve felt in the virtual world and the simulator, which normally does when everything goes well.

“From now on, I’m just really excited to be next week and to be trying to the car more.

“I mean, now with the technology we get, it’s absolutely crazy how close it gets [the simulator], but there can be some mis-correlations that over the years, we always try to do the boundaries and to get as close to reality as possible, but they’ve done a great job of that, so I’m sure it will very similar to what I’ve tried on the simulator.”

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