More rumours have emerged linking Charles Leclerc to Mercedes after Ferrari‘s difficult start to the 2023 Formula 1 season.
With an exodus of Ferrari‘s technical staff looking poised to break, many have wondered whether Leclerc will look to jump ship when his contract expires, with Lewis Hamilton‘s Mercedes deal up at the end of 2023.
Leclerc was previously asked about the possibility of a move to the Silver Arrows and rubbished the idea, though his opinion may have changed following Ferrari‘s shaky start to the campaign.
“Honestly, there is no negotiation, I feel good at Ferrari,” Leclerc said ahead of the start of the 2023 season. “I feel the enthusiasm of the people and I am excited by the idea of crowning the dream, mine and everyone else’s, of winning with the Scuderia.”
End of an era at Ferrari?
Leclerc‘s the only Ferrari Academy driver to make it all the way to the top team, and he’s won five races in scarlet since joining the team in 2019.
When he signed a bumper contract extension in 2020, to the end of 2024, Leclerc looked set to carry Ferrari‘s hopes for a generation.
However, after two years sat squarely in the midfield, Ferrari were unable to sustain their title challenge in 2022 and Leclerc now looks set in a battle with Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin for best of the rest behind Red Bull.
Leclerc‘s retirement from the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix due to engine problems – an issue that derailed his 2022 world championship hopes – will hardly have helped matters, and after senior figure David Sanchez announced his shock resignation from Ferrari it’s thought they’ll be more departures to come.
Meanwhile, Hamilton‘s contract is up at the 2023 season and several Italian news outlets have floated the idea that Leclerc will give up on his Italian dream and head instead to the most successful F1 team of the last 10 years – Mercedes.
Leclerc may be able to break his Ferrari contract a year early, while Mercedes could be looking for a replacement for Hamilton if he decides to walk away.
Leclerc would then partner up with George Russell to form by far the strongest driver lineup on the grid, as Mercedes look to fight back from two fallow years behind Red Bull.
The only sticking points so far are Leclerc‘s given no public indications he wants to leave Ferrari and Hamilton‘s reiterated his desire to stay at Mercedes beyond his current deal.