Charles Leclerc was reportedly informed of Ferrari’s interest in signing Lewis Hamilton by John Elkann and Fred Vasseur before talks got underway regarding his new contract, which was announced in January. The new deal will keep the Monegasque driver with the team until the end of the 2028 season, but he does have an exit clause among the terms.
Leclerc’s new deal was announced in January, and most expected the news of Carlos Sainz’s renewal to follow in due course. However, on the first day of February, the Scuderia sent the motorsport world into chaos, confirming the signing of Hamilton for the 2025 season and beyond.
As per a report from La Gazzetta dello Sport, Leclerc was made aware of the plans to recruit Hamilton before signing on – and subsequently decided to include an ‘exit clause’. The same publication claims he viewed Hamilton’s arrival at Maranello as a major source of inspiration to improve his performance level. This is also an opportunity to increase his stature in the paddock should he beat the seven-time world champion.
Like Hamilton, the 25-year-old has a clause that will allow him to exit his contract in 2026, should development not go to plan. However, Leclerc also has faith that Hamilton’s presence at Maranello will help to bolster Ferrari’s development moving into the new technical regulation period, given the 39-year-old’s vast experience working in World Championship-winning teams.
While there is an understandable buzz of excitement ahead of Hamilton’s arrival in 2025, Leclerc and team-mate Sainz will be laser-focused on the upcoming campaign as Ferrari look to hunt down reigning champions Red Bull and add to their collection of one victory and seven pole positions acquired last year.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the launch of the team’s new challenger, the SF-24, Leclerc said: “On the simulator, the feeling is good. The car is definitely a step forward compared to last year. We’ve been focusing on the main weaknesses we had last year, as we do every year.
“For now, the car in the simulator has been reacting extremely well, but there’s obviously another important part to all of this – how much it correlates to the real car once we put it in Bahrain for the first time on the track.”
Leclerc will be hoping to build on a frustrating 2023 campaign this year, but there is much more at stake for his Ferrari team-mate. Now left without a drive beyond the upcoming season, Sainz will be looking to impress fellow suitors with seats at Mercedes and Sauber looking the most appealing options for the Spaniard to pursue.