The relationship between Ferrari F1 and Charles Leclerc officially began on September 11, 2018, although the driver was already a figure within the world of Ferrari as part of the Academy. On that date, Maranello announced that the talented Monegasque, who was then with Sauber, would replace Kimi Räikkönen starting from the following Formula 1 season, alongside Sebastian Vettel.
In his debut season in 2019, Charles Leclerc’s performances were so solid and convincing that Ferrari extended his contract for five years, placing all their bets on him and forcing Sebastian Vettel, who can be seen as not entirely adamant, to leave after being defeated in the two-year comparison.
After four seasons since that contract extension, during which the driver has pursued a world title that eluded him due to cars that were never fully competitive, there is just over a year left until the contract expires. A renewal is not yet on the horizon, despite all the expressions of love and availability from both parties.
For Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari was an opportunity. Through the Prancing Horse, he entered a higher dimension, he was welcomed into the Olympus of the greats. He was exposed to the spotlight, he experienced true fame. Of course, these achievements are well-deserved considering the performances he has delivered. Nothing was single-handedly given to him.
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Ferrari – Charles Leclerc: an unbalanced relationship
To be extremely realistic, at present, Charles Leclerc has given more to Ferrari than he has received in return. Disappointed promises, shattered dreams, and unfulfilled desires. The 2023 Formula 1 season is a reflection of this undeniable reality: it has been a year that started with high expectations but one that turned into a difficult season marked by old and new issues.
There is a feeling, which we hope will be proven wrong, that this championship will be yet another season of temporary suffering while awaiting a sweeter future that may not materialize. The many changes in leadership within the various departments of Ferrari, from the management to the technical aspects, may require a period of adjustment that is incompatible with Charles Leclerc’s desire for victory, as pointed out by Formula 1 journalist Diego Catalano for FUnoanalisitecnica.
Despite everything, the persistence of this situation could wear down the seemingly monolithic certainties of Charles, whose gaze may turn north, to England, the homeland and cradle of Formula 1. If this were to happen, Ferrari could become a golden cage for the ambitious Monegasque driver.
Damon Hill has come to this rather arbitrary conclusion. The 1996 World Champion, in recent times, seems to be attracted to Italy as he often engages in rather polemical discussions about the glorious Maranello-based team.
“I think Charles Leclerc is stuck at Ferrari.” This is the firm opening statement from the former British driver in some statements given to Sky Sports UK. Hill, inexplicably harsh, believes that Ferrari has had its share of responsibility in the difficult times – and it must be so because the technical direction is given by the team – but he also highlighted how the driver continues to make mistakes, starting from qualifying.
But the “serious” part of a discourse that borders on surrealism would be regarding the future of the Monegasque, who would risk being chained to Ferrari, as if it were a downward option, a plan B for a career that should unfold in the land of Albion to be fully accomplished, offering superior opportunities.
Leclerc chained by Ferrari?
According to Hill, the doors of top teams are closed for Charles. This statement is based on a malicious assessment that the driver has repeatedly dismissed. In other words, Charles Leclerc would consider shedding the red. Damon seems to hold a good amount of truth in the palm of his hand as he expresses himself with a lot of confidence:
“Leclerc to Red Bull? I doubt it, no chance. To Mercedes? I am sure that Toto Wolff will stay with Lewis Hamilton until he decides to stop racing. So I think he will stay with Ferrari in the long term, until they give him the right car to win the championship. Aston Martin? Perhaps. If Ferrari continues to perform poorly, then maybe Leclerc will start looking around.”
In Formula 1, as in many other fields, if there is no signed and registered contract, anything is possible. So anything can happen. Leclerc may leave, Hamilton may retire, and who knows how many other scenarios have been postulated in recent months. But will words still mean anything? And Charles’s expressions of love for Ferrari do not seem superficial or those of someone who has to settle for a less noble and fruitful choice for their career.
The FDA talent believes in his team, which in turn reciprocates the trust by placing him at the center of a technical and sporting project in full restructuring phase to create the conditions necessary to institutionalize the attitude for victory. No offense to Damon Hill, but this time his observations seem like sterile provocations more aimed at drawing attention to himself than offering interesting food for thought to the Formula One fans.