Charles Leclerc was said to be in the know and welcoming of Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari talks, but a fresh report in the Italian press claims this is not the case.
Leclerc will have a new Ferrari team-mate come 2025 in a move very few saw coming, as Hamilton activated an exit clause in his two-year Mercedes deal only signed last August to seal his future move to the Scuderia.
Hamilton will take the place of Carlos Sainz, the only non-Red Bull Grand Prix winner of 2023, to form an intriguing and potentially eventful partnership of Hamilton and Leclerc, that possibility heightened by Leclerc’s apparent dismay at the deal.
Charles Leclerc and management blindsided by Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari
Ferrari’s future pairing does offer up an interesting dynamic, their star academy graduate and poster boy for the pursuit of fresh title success in Leclerc having just recently signed a new Ferrari contract, who will now find himself up against seven-time World Champion and F1 icon Hamilton, who assuming he does not taste F1 2024 title success, will chase that record-breaking eighth with Ferrari in 2025.
Nonetheless, initial reports in the Italian press had claimed that Leclerc knew about the Hamilton talks and ‘welcomed’ the chance to test himself against Formula 1’s most successful driver. Corriere dello Sport though has heard different.
The publication reports that Leclerc and his management ‘were shocked and disappointed by Ferrari’s decision’, as at the time he signed his contract extension with an undefined expiration, Leclerc and Co ‘had no idea what was about to happen’.
It is claimed they have kept quiet on the matter as to not ‘reveal a weakness’.
Hamilton recently took to social media to shed further light on his shock decision to swap Mercedes for Ferrari, explaining that he has taken the plunge to realise a “childhood dream” of racing for Ferrari.
“It’s been a crazy few days which have been filled with a whole range of emotions,” he said.
“But as you all now know, after an incredible 11 years at Mercedes, the time has come for me to start a new chapter in my life and I will be joining Ferrari in 2025.
“I feel incredibly fortunate, after achieving things with Mercedes that I could only have dreamed of as a kid, that I now have the chance to fulfil another childhood dream. Driving in Ferrari red.”
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told media including PlanetF1.com that thought has not yet turned to the type of driver they will target to replace Hamilton, with anyone from a rookie to an experienced F1 star possible at this stage.