According to Matt Kew, the Audi option, which is preparing to make its debut in 2026, could represent the only concrete alternative for Charles Leclerc if his relationship with Ferrari were to deteriorate in the next two seasons. At the moment, the Monegasque driver finds himself somewhat constrained because neither the Ferrari project nor the German giant can offer him great assurances, and time is running short to contemplate his future.
Charles Leclerc at a crucial crossroads: continue with Ferrari or embark on a new adventure?
Number 16 is not the only one questioning his future in Formula 1; many in the industry are doing the same. Matt Kew, a well-known journalist for Autosport, has also pondered the situation at Ferrari and the driver market.
When asked if Charles Leclerc should stay with Ferrari or leave, the British journalist replied: “I’ve asked myself this question while looking at the alternatives. If and when Hamilton retires, I believe Mercedes will be more inclined to choose Lando Norris. However, Norris might go to Red Bull to partner with Max Verstappen.”
“Depending on how things unfold, McLaren, which is currently on the rise, is an option for Charles Leclerc, but I don’t see Red Bull or Mercedes betting on him. I think this is because he’s fast, and his racecraft is good, but I believe he’s in a slightly lower category than Verstappen and Russell.”
“As a driver, I don’t think he’s on their level in terms of intelligence and the ability to advance the team. So, you look at the alternatives, which means a mega salary at Sauber/Audi. What you hear about them… you look at Sauber, which is finally adhering to the cost cap now that it has received some investment from Ingolstadt, but it hasn’t made progress this season.”
The Audi 2026 option is not convincing: Could Norris free up a seat at McLaren?
“Rumors say that Audi is months behind Red Bull Powertrains and Mercedes in terms of the 2026 engine regulations, so, in practice, it’s not a competitive step forward. Perhaps it’s better to stay at Ferrari simply due to the lack of alternative opportunities.”
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With Formula 1 set to confirm all 20 current drivers for next year, moving the pieces on the chessboard is becoming less frequent, especially among the top teams. Mercedes has already confirmed both of its drivers, and the same goes for Aston Martin.
The only seat that could trigger a transfer shuffle is that of Sergio Perez, who appears to be increasingly on the way out from Milton Keynes in 2025. With the Mexican out, Red Bull could turn its attention to Lando Norris, who has expressed the desire to race alongside Max Verstappen.
At that point, Charles Leclerc could become entangled in a chess game that could pay off but also be counterproductive. For these reasons, before making any decisions, the Monegasque driver should seek assurances from Ferrari first before potentially venturing into the market.