Amidst rumours Charles Leclerc has agreed on a mega five-year extension with Ferrari, Christian Horner says the Scuderia would be “crazy” not to lock down the Monégasque driver.
Joining Ferrari in 2019 after a year with Alfa Romeo, Leclerc’s time with the Scuderia has not yielded the results either the driver or the team dreamed of.
Although he won two Grands Prix in his first season with the team, Ferrari were win-less in 2020 and again in 2021 when they were reportedly hamstrung by an undisclosed penalty for an engine cheating scandal.
Ferrari would be ‘crazy’ not to hold onto Charles Leclerc
He was back on the top step of the podium last season with three wins as he secured second place in the Drivers’ Championship.
However, Ferrari’s dream of challenging Red Bull in 2023 was silenced as the Milton Keynes squad went on a rampage. Leclerc didn’t win a single race despite five pole positions.
This led to former drivers and pundits urging the 26-year-old to seek pastures new, a straight swap with Lewis Hamilton being touted mid-season.
That, though, never materialised with Hamilton re-signing with Mercedes while Leclerc is expected to remain a Ferrari driver until the end of the 2029 season.
Under contract for next year, Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting the five-time Grand Prix winner has agreed a new five-year deal that comes with a €25m starting salary that will double over the course of the contract.
That will lock Leclerc down until the end of the 2029 season, although it has been claimed there are performance-related exit clauses that will kick in from the third year.
But while Ferrari called the report “speculation”, the Scuderia’s chairman John Elkann was reported to have told a board meeting that Leclerc and Carlos Sainz “will stay with us”.
That, Horner says, is the right call.
“It’s totally natural,” he told Sky Sports of Leclerc’s reported pending confirmation. “He’s a great driver and I’m sure they’ll want to keep hold of him.
“They’d be crazy if they didn’t.”
Toto Wolff agrees, saying: “I don’t know anything about the contractual situation there, but he’s a great guy and why wouldn’t Ferrari sign him?”
Charles Leclerc wants to finish Ferrari ‘mission’
Leclerc has made no secret about wanting to continue with Ferrari beyond his current contract with the driver going as far as to say he wouldn’t leave even if that was the only way he could win a World title.
“I don’t really think to that because Ferrari is so special and I wouldn’t change my position with anyone else on the grid,” he told ESPN last month.
“Do I want to win World Championships? Of course, this is the same for everybody, but do I want to change my place with anyone? No, I don’t.
“I have always been dreaming of being a Formula One driver, and even more so with Ferrari.
“It’s a bit of a family feeling now, it’s been so many years I have been within the team, whether it is as an actual race driver for Ferrari or at the Ferrari Driver Academy in the years before.
“It’s been many years together and I want to finish the mission with a World Championship.”