Top salary for Charles Leclerc and a new leadership role within the team. Fred Vasseur has placed him at the center of the project, and he will have greater responsibilities.
A whole life ahead. Words of love and silences to interpret. Because “the best is yet to come,” and the best is that Drivers’ World Championship that has eluded Ferrari for 17 years (Raikkonen, 2007). The boy who dreamed of winning with the red car has grown up; the contract renewal—officially announced on Thursday—will bring Charles Leclerc into the adult age of a driver, where dreams and desires no longer walk hand in hand.
The young prince was born about fifteen days after Max Verstappen, they have faced each other on the track since elementary school, but a world separates them: 5 wins and 23 poles for the former; 54 wins, 32 poles, and three titles for the latter. Charles remains to try to bridge a gap that will be very difficult to recover in this season, starting on March 2nd in Bahrain, with Red Bull once again starting as the favorite.
Beyond the heartwarming statements—”this team is my second family, ever since I joined the Academy in 2016″—the marriage will continue based on mutual opportunities. Ferrari has secured him, satisfying the financial demands (a salary of 30 million per year plus 5 in various bonuses, up from the initial 25), and has recognized him as the leader in the relaunch project led by Fred Vasseur, his first boss in F1 when he debuted with Alfa Romeo in 2018.
Carlos Sainz’s renewal is on hold
The proof of a dual status and a dual speed within the Scuderia is in the deadlock over Carlos Sainz’s extension. The Spanish driver—whose contract expires at the end of the year—would like a two-year deal, the situation does not seem clear, yet last year, chosen by the previous management of Mattia Binotto, he was the only one to interrupt Red Bull’s dominance, winning the Singapore GP. He is liked by several teams, not just Audi, mainly for his ability to steer technical development and tuning. The German manufacturer, with which his father has just won the Dakar and will enter in 2026 by acquiring Sauber shares, has approached 7-8 active drivers and is capable of offering substantial salaries.
Certainly, yesterday’s announcement represents a turning point in Ferrari’s internal relations, both present and future. But something had already been understood about a month ago when Carlos lost a long-standing personal sponsor, Estrella Galicia beer, replaced by the Italian Peroni.
What Charles Leclerc’s renewal means
Frederic Vasseur, in his second season in red (actually the first full one, as he joined the project already underway in January 2023), needs to show solid progress while waiting to take the path that will lead to the rule change in 2026—an opportunity to shuffle the cards. “My dream remains to win the title with Ferrari,” Charles repeated while commenting on the new union. “I am sure that in the years ahead, we will achieve some great satisfactions and give the fans something to cheer about.” Specific references to a precise timeframe are missing (the memory of unjustified optimism from twelve months ago is still too vivid), just as Ferrari has avoided specifying the duration of the agreement. An ambiguity behind which various scenarios could be hidden: among these, it is probable that Charles Leclerc himself wanted to be cautious by including exit opportunities after 2026, in case the new project, whose core is the electrified power unit, does not yield the expected results.
One thing is certain: in the 2024 Formula One season, car number 16 will start with more responsibilities with the designation of leader. The same will be true for Fred Vasseur; the Frenchman is doing everything to stay away from the spotlight, it is also a way to ease the pressure on the team. But the mission has no alternatives: “Give Charles a winning car; I know that his decision and commitment will be elements that can make a difference towards the goals we want to achieve.” Because you cannot live on love alone.