Charles Leclerc ignored Mercedes or Red Bull to duel Lewis Hamilton at Ferrari

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz were told of Lewis Hamilton's Ferrari talks which were ongoing for "months"

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 with Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari in qualifying parc ferme. Formula 1 World
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 with Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari in…

Charles Leclerc reportedly chose to stay at Ferrari, knowing Lewis Hamilton was coming, to directly take on his new teammate.

Leclerc penned a multi-year contract to stay at Ferrari shortly before Hamilton announced that he would join the Italian manufacturer in 2025.

Hamilton’s talks with Ferrari “had been going on under the radar for a few months”, Gazzetta report.

Leclerc - and his current teammate Carlos Sainz, who was also in talks to sign a new Ferrari deal - were made aware of the team’s negotiations with Hamilton, the report says.

President John Elkann and team principal Fred Vasseur told their current drivers about the situation.

Leclerc could have turned to Mercedes or Red Bull to claim their 2025 vacancies during this period, knowing Hamilton was incoming, but chose not to.

“One of the reasons was Hamilton himself,” the Italian newspaper reports.

Leclerc has told “people close to him” that directly competing with Hamilton in equal machinery is a great motivation to stay at Ferrari.

He remembers his 2019 Monza victory where he got the better of Hamilton.

Leclerc knows that outperforming Hamilton next year as Ferrari drivers would dramatically increase his status and effectively make him the team leader.

Leclerc is also “convinced” that Hamilton’s veteran knowledge can greatly improve development of the ‘25 Ferrari.

The Monegasque driver knows that the addition of Hamilton means Ferrari are investing heavily in winning the F1 championship.

Hamilton’s arrival could spark the addition of engineers from rival teams, which Leclerc would benefit from.

But Leclerc has given himself a Plan B, the report claims.

His new Ferrari contract includes a get-out clause which he can invoke after the 2026 season, if he deems that Ferrari have not produced a winning car after one season of the new regulations.

Leclerc could then turn to Mercedes or Red Bull.

And Max Verstappen “has not vetoed a possible arrival of Leclerc at Red Bull”, the Italian media believe.

Read More