How can one imagine a Ferrari without Charles Leclerc? Why hasn’t there been official confirmation regarding the renewal? What are the issues prolonging the wait for the announcement? These and other questions are posed every day by fans of the Prancing Horse around the world. The Monegasque driver is a great talent. Grown in the Academy, the twenty-six-year-old native of Monte Carlo has matured in the court of Maranello, gaining immense popularity and the first satisfactions of his career. A combination that “expects” to continue for many more years.
If Carlos Sainz has been somewhat “set aside,” there’s a reason. We’ve already talked about it. The Prancing Horse realized that to keep the former Alfa Romeo driver, the stakes needed to be raised. It’s not just about money. Finances have never been lacking for Ferrari, especially with John Elkann not facing such issues. However, a clear signal needed to be sent to put Charles Leclerc at the center of the project for the near future.
After all, Red Bull did this, and as we have seen, it didn’t go wrong, fully supporting Max Verstappen, sweeping away any “nuisance” that could jeopardize his career. A comprehensive, 360-degree support where everything was subordinated to the phenomenon from Hasselt. The same treatment received by Lewis Hamilton after Nico Rosberg’s departure, where the Black King built his fortunes as well as those of the Brackley team. Being “pampered” is much more important for an F1 driver than one might think.
The reasons are simple because making a driver an integral part of an operational plan makes them responsible. Offering the opportunity to have an impact outside the cockpit is crucial. Having a say in important technical decisions and, above all, being able to hold a steering wheel that responds well to the provided inputs. After all, it’s the driver who, on the track, transforms the efforts of the engineers into results. This is why offering the maximum driving comfort is crucial.
Ferrari is planning the future with Charles Leclerc
Verstappen recently stated that an F1 driver must be able to adapt to the car, squeeze it, and get the most out of it. All true. A champion knows how to do it. But the Dutchman forgets that the recent aero-mechanical engineering works at Red Bull, forged by the ingenious Adrian Newey, had two precise distinctive features: maximum performance on one hand, and on the other, the ability to provide Max with the right feeling always and in all conditions.
When this prerogative was absent, the three-time world champion suffered, and the continuous complaints on the radio, even in a season where everything was almost perfect, did not take long to arrive. “Disputes” not insignificant with his Italian race engineer, Giampiero Lambiase, where the tones of the communications were anything but friendly. All this to underline that if Verstappen is the phenomenon we all know, part of the reasons can be found in the unconditional support he received.
Let’s go back to Charles Leclerc. Mattia Binotto is no longer there, a blessing for Ferrari. We’re not referring so much to the technical approach in this case, but rather to the management of drivers. The bespectacled and lanky Swiss engineer was unable to understand, despite his iconic phrase repeated nauseatingly in many (too many) interviews, that it was very important to “learn and then correct.” A truth that is misleading in various aspects and has limited the performance of the historic Maranello team. Mattia chose the wrong horse. He had an “unmotivated” preference for Carlos Sainz.
The Iberian is an excellent driver, but he lacks that extra “something” capable of leading the team to more fruitful results. Just as one swallow doesn’t make a summer, observing Ferrari’s recent history, we can understand that it’s not one, two, or three races that can tip the balance. Charles Leclerc, in fact, has demonstrated on multiple occasions, every season since his first championship alongside Vettel, that, like Hamilton and Verstappen, he can add the missing piece to achieve better results when the car “isn’t enough.”
We’re talking about an aspect that the Monegasque has shown, even though, until now, he has never been considered the absolute lead driver with all that it entails, as we said. The fairy tale of equal treatment is over. Vasseur made a decision supported by the Italian team, and there’s no going back. Some argue that Charles’s future is with Mercedes, taking over from the seven-time British F1 world champion. The suggestion can be considered, after all, the German team has impressive facilities.
However, there’s an element to consider. Leclerc is “infatuated” with Ferrari. He wants to win with Ferrari. He believes in the Ferrari project. He has reiterated this himself on multiple occasions and won’t miss the opportunity to do so again when the competitive campaign of 2024 begins. There are few doubts about it. The multi-year contract to extend his commitment was signed in due time. We’re just waiting for the right moment to talk about it to the press, considering that the current Project 676 is in a very delicate defining phase.
Obviously, we don’t know if there’s a buyout clause in Charles’s contract. We don’t go that far. Just as it is not known, at least for our editorial team, what could happen in the mind of the Ferrari enthusiast if the next Emilian car were to replicate the unsuccessful 2023 season. One thing is certain, however: Carlos is no longer on the list of priorities for the Modena team, despite his renewal being likely. While Ferrari and Leclerc want to continue together for a long time, plan, and achieve the long-desired goal: to return to winning.
Source: Alessandro Arcari for FUnoanalisitecnica