Charles Leclerc could be poised to walk away from Ferrari after seven years with the iconic team, as he finally loses faith in their ability to deliver a championship-calibre car to match his level of talent.
The conversation is flirted around the paddock every year with the Monegasque regularly being tipped to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes or to pair up with Max Verstappen at Red Bull, but he generally reaffirms his commitment to Formula 1’s oldest team – although he doesn’t rule out looking elsewhere.
“Of course, I think every driver has considered their different options,” Leclerc said earlier in the season. “Once they get the [possibility]. But I have a huge love of Ferrari.
“My first target and my first dream is to become a world champion with Ferrari, more than anything else. So, if there’s a slight opportunity for it to happen, I will have no doubt about pushing to stay here at least.”
However, at the 2023 Brazilian Grand Prix it seems that the first public fault line appeared in his relationship with Enzo Ferrari’s creation as he suffered a hydraulic failure on the formation lap that saw him fail to start the race at Interlagos despite qualifying second to Verstappen.
“No! I lost the hydraulics!,” the 26-year-old anguished on the radio. “Why the f–k am I so unlucky? Why the f–k am I so unlucky?”
Contract discussions are underway with the team he joined in 2019 as his contract expires at the end of 2024, alongside teammate Carlos Sainz, who could also depart the team for Audi. Following Leclerc‘s retirement in Sao Paulo, Italian outlet Corriere Della Sera report the situation is “delicate”.
Leclerc has now expressed his doubts at his odds of becoming a world champion with Ferrari, and to be honest he isn’t getting any younger either. Now into his prime, he’s no longer an upcoming talent that can afford to wait for years of his career for a shot at eternal F1 glory.
Why could Leclerc quit?
In a theme that started in 2022, Leclerc has often delivered a strong performance only to be let down by external factors such as mechanical failure or strategic error and it arguably cost him a shot at the title that year. It’s continued into the current season despite the new leadership of Frederic Vasseur, whom he worked with at Sauber in 2018.
To highlight the situation, Leclerc holds a daunting pole-to-win conversion rate of just 18.2 percent (closer to Ralf Schumacher than Michael Schumacher) showing his ability to give Ferrari opportunities but their inability to deliver them into real results.
He might even be heeding the warning given to him by Sebastian Vettel at the end of the latter’s Ferrari career, which read, “To Charles, you are the most talented driver I came across in 15 years of F1. Don’t waste it. Whatever you do to be happy and smile. Thanks for everything.”