Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2023

Leclerc signs Ferrari contract extension for “several more seasons”

Formula 1

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Charles Leclerc will continue as a Ferrari driver for “several” more seasons after he signed a contract extension with his current team.

The 26-year-old has raced with the Scuderia since 2019, his second season in Formula 1. He was originally a member of Ferrari’s junior driver programme and made his F1 debut with Sauber in 2018.

Leclerc has one more season on his current contract with the team, which he signed after the end of the 2019 championship, but his new deal will keep him at Ferrari beyond this year.

“I’m very pleased to know that I will be wearing the Scuderia Ferrari race suit for several more seasons to come,” Leclerc said.

“To race for this team has been my dream since I was three years old. This team is my second family ever since I joined the Ferrari Driver Academy in 2016 and we have achieved a lot together, fighting through thick and thin over the past five years.

“However, I believe the best is yet to come and I can’t wait for this season to start, to make further progress and be competitive at every race. My dream remains that of winning the world championship with Ferrari and I’m sure that in the years ahead, we will enjoy great times together and make our fans happy.”

Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur, who also worked with Leclerc at Sauber, said it was a “natural” decision to extend his contract.

“We know him for his incessant desire to push himself to the limit and we appreciate his extraordinary abilities when it comes to fighting and overtaking in a race,” Vasseur said. “We are determined to give Charles a winning car and I know that his determination and commitment are elements that can make the difference in helping us reach our goals.”

Over five seasons and 102 grand prix starts with Ferrari, Leclerc has taken five grand prix victories, 23 pole positions, 30 podium appearances and a total of 1,035 points. His achievements make him the fifth most successful F1 driver over that same period, behind Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez.

Leclerc fell from second in the drivers’ championship in 2022 to fifth last year, equal on points with Fernando Alonso. Despite six podium finishes, Leclerc failed to win a grand prix. His Ferrari team mate, Carlos Sainz Jnr, was the only non-Red Bull driver to win a race throughout 2023.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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23 comments on “Leclerc signs Ferrari contract extension for “several more seasons””

  1. notagrumpyfan
    25th January 2024, 15:19

    I preferred the olden days when contracts were shorter and we saw more drivers change team every year.
    We can only truly judge a driver’s skill and capability when we see them in various cars and fighting against various team mates*.

    * of course some here will then say that the car is not the same for both.

    1. José Lopes da Silva
      25th January 2024, 16:37

      Indeed. Now, with these people like Prost (McLaren 1984-89), Senna (McLaren 1988-93), Schumacher (Benetton 1991-95, Ferrari 1996-2005), Hakkinen (1993-2001), it’s getting impossible. Please bring back Fangio’s bravado of jumping team almost every year.

      1. :) Great reply! :)

      2. notagrumpyfan
        25th January 2024, 18:03

        Good come-back until you included Hakkinen :p

        But even if you look at jumping teams, it should be clear that each single great driver in your list had the same amount of moves as (or more than) Verstappen, Hamilton, Leclerc, and Norris combined.

        Luckily we still have Alonso.

        1. José Lopes da Silva
          25th January 2024, 21:11

          I understand your point, actually. Eventually Keith could do an article with statistics about top drivers rate or frequency of changing teams. These last four decades are likely more prone to longer contracts.

          My true point is that the sport keeps always getting different every 10 years or so. If you check the main characteristics of it, regarding engineering, financing, sports rules, ethic rules, driving styles, etc., every 10 years you get a different sport.

          Today we all revere the “clash of titans” represented by Senna and Prost between 1988 and 1990, which included two title-deciding crashes. The polemics around the ethics and legality of it are now almost forgotten. But that could not be more different of the titles of 1956 and 1958 which were (especially 58) decided by gentlemen. Unthinkable today.

          There was a huge backlash in 1968 when commercial sponsoring was introduced. It “killed” F1. Some 45 years or so, people were complaining about the disappearing of sponsoring.

          There was a period of 20+ years of mad technical innovation and rules somewhat open that made all but impossible for a driver to win consecutive titles. That was the period where we find a bigger number of one-time champions. Somehow, after the horrific 1982 season, the sport regulators imposed stability and avoided such mayhem, further. And the fact is that from 1984 onwards the norm is for Drivers and Constructors to be able of building success cycles that are very hard to topple or break.

          I believe that this last period, as Keith analysed the V6 era, is the most stable of all. But, even so, the larger cars from 2017 meant some changes in what is required from the drivers in the races… It makes sense for teams to keep a competent driver for as many times as possible. And, most drivers are now Lauda-Prost-Senna-Schumacher-like professionals, so there are less reasons to kick them out. If you’re a James Hunt you’ll get nowhere, because the bar is now much higher. Throw yourself bravely and fiercely into the corners is not enough – and every driver out there does it…

        2. I think the point was these were all drivers that stayed at the same team a long time, and hakkinen, though I don’t remember if he had contract negotiations with other teams at the time (wasn’t looking into that stuff) was indeed very loyal to mclaren.

          Just like hamilton with mclaren and then mercedes, even though after the car he got in 2014, staying until 2021 was a given, it’s only after that I consider it loyal of him to stay.

          1. José Lopes da Silva
            26th January 2024, 11:48

            An interesting point. Why should loyalty be important?

          2. Loyalty is one of the greatest qualities in a human. I guess it’s important in F1 as it is important in any other sphere of life. Of course, no one is forced to appreciate it in someone.
            Speaking of F1, today most drivers don’t have alternative choices anyway. Where else could Hamilton go, or Leclerc? Only lateral movements were maybe (and that’s a bit maybe) possible. It’s usually the teams that can show loyalty to drivers now; and I struggle ti find many modern examples of that (Helmut Marko comes to mind).

          3. José Lopes da Silva
            27th January 2024, 10:47

            @Dex of course loyalty is one of the greatest qualities in a human. Does that mean that Senna should have been loyal to Toleman and stick to the team throughout his career? Should Schumacher have stayed with Benetton beyond 1995? After all, they gave him his first 2 world titles. And could Raikkonen leave Sauber, after giving him his chance in F1?
            I’m not approaching Schumacher hurrying leave of Jordan nor Frentzen’s stay in Sauber in 1994 instead of jumping to Williams. We could debate their reasons. But whenever I hear Enzo Ferrari complaining that Fangio was not loyal to teams, I can’t think but of a sore loser. The market is open and the sport, ultimately, is based on a open market. Best drivers look for the best teams and the best teams look for the best drivers.

            Ultimately, notagrumpyfan is quite right in the point that we will never witness another driver beating Fangio’s record of winning the title with 4 different teams

    2. Agreed, it’s all a bit stale. But that’s the board, from an engine freeze, spec tyres through to the very restrictive technical regulations.

      For both parties this is nevertheless a sensible pick. Red Bull doesn’t want Leclerc, and Verstappen doesn’t want Ferrari. So this is the best both can do.

      Still think Ferrari should have gone all in with an attempt to get Hamilton, but hey.

      1. MichaelN,
        Hamilton has never shown serious interest with regard to driving for Ferrari. His mention of the Ferrari name seems more like a negotiating tactic with Wolff to secure better financial terms. Having achieved everything a driver dreams of in his F1 career, the decision to move to Ferrari in 2020, despite winning his 7th title, was a noo-brainer. He even met John Elkann at Maranello but that was as I said part of putting pressure on Wolff.

        Ferrari wouldn’t hesitate to offer Hamilton a more lucrative deal than Mercedes. They could leverage his fame to promote other brands owned by Elkann, such as Alfa Romeo, Jeep, Dodge… especially in the States where he is extremely popular.

        1. José Lopes da Silva
          26th January 2024, 11:50

          Both sensible and spot on perspectives, here

        2. Yeah, Hamilton has probably settled on being a Mercedes-only driver throughout his F1 career.

          That’s fair enough, and he’s also not getting any younger. This would have been a better idea a couple of years ago, but the conditions at both Mercedes and Ferrari didn’t make it a great prospect at the time. It wasn’t like Alonso going to McLaren after winning two titles at Renault, or Schumacher going to Ferrari after winning two at Benetton. At no point did Hamilton have a good reason to want to leave Mercedes, nor did Ferrari present itself as the ideal place to go to.

          Now if Rosberg had stayed in 2017… who knows! One for the #AlternativeHistory folks.

  2. I hope that’s not the exact words on his contract.
    He’s every inch a Ferrari driver, him driving for someone else wouldn’t seem right.

  3. Mark in Florida
    25th January 2024, 16:37

    Misery loves company. Ferrari isn’t going to claw they’re way too the top anytime soon.
    Charles will be stuck on this team, stuck with the same frustrations, always hoping for something better but never getting it.

    1. The only better options were Mercedes or Red Bull. Mercedes are about even with Ferrari these days and Red Bull is unlikely. At least he’ll pick up some wins and a big paycheck.

  4. José Lopes da Silva
    25th January 2024, 16:40

    He can’t find no better team. Ferrari can’t find no better driver. He still did not loose the faith of his team, and no one thinks that he is not able to get the title given the conditions, in spite of France/22. So, it’s a no-brainer.

  5. I don’t want to pour cold water on this, but we can’t deny that Charles is not the complete package. He is a fine driver and quick, there is no doubt about that. But there is a but: when the pressure is on he succumbs, and we have the spin, the off, the last lap mishap, and the like. I suspect Ferrari have left themselves options, and all the while are keeping a beady eye on alternatives. We are led to believe that Piastri is locked in at McLaren. But is there really such a thing as a tamper proof contract in F1? Maybe at the right price all locks can be sprung open.

    1. Leclerc also seems too passive when Ferrari makes mistakes, while Sainz is more willing to talk sense into them. Max and Lewis also seem more willing to challenge the team than Leclerc, even though they need to do so a lot less.

    2. I don’t entirely disagree, but those are problems that tend to plague the drivers in the ‘just not quite there’ cars. Hamilton, Verstappen and Vettel all had those moments too in years they were struggling to keep up with the faster competition.

      That said, while I really like watching Leclerc drive, in qualifying especially, and as someone partial to Ferrari, I think I’m settled on him being more of a Häkkinen kind of guy. Super fast, and he should be able to win the title if Ferrari puts a fantastic package together. But I don’t think he has it in him to really push the entire team forward and even bring people over who want to work with him.

      By way of contrast; I thought it was quite interesting that in the F1 Beyond the Grid episode from 2021 with Ron Meadows, Andrew Shovlin, Simon Cole and James Vowles of Mercedes (!), they each led with Michael Schumacher as the favourite driver they worked with. Especially interesting was the part about Brawn saying to them: “Michael is gonna come, he is gonna change everything, you wait and see.”

    3. Leclerc cracks under pressure? Maybe you need to rewatch Austria ‘22 or Monza ‘19. Leclerc is one of the only guys on the grid who’ve taken the fight to Verstappen and Hamilton at their peak and won. No driver is free of mistakes but somehow the few Leclerc has made get brought up every time is name is in a headline.

    4. Every driver makes errors under pressure and in fact many of them cost a lost of points. Leclerc’s get amplified because he also drives for a poorly run team driving also a poor race car.

      But I don’t think that’s a conversation that many would like to engage in.

  6. Unsurprising

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