Karun Chandhok believes Ferrari’s decision to hand Charles Leclerc a long-term Formula 1 contract was a “no-brainer”.

Leclerc claimed two victories and seven pole positions on his way to beating four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel in the championship standings during an impressive first campaign at Ferrari.

The 22-year-old was rewarded with a new extended deal at the Scuderia running until the end of 2024, and ex-F1-driver-turned-pundit Chandhok feels the decision was fully justified.

“I think Leclerc first of all was not a surprise at all - it was a no-brainer,” Chandhok said at Autosport International.

“I think all they needed was to see what he did for one season, make sure that he was able to do what they knew, but they wanted final confirmation.

“Once they saw that, that was a no-brainer for everybody involved.”

Chandhok reckons Max Verstappen’s fresh commitment to Red Bull is a reflection that any potential door to Mercedes had been closed, with Lewis Hamilton expected to remain at the reigning world champions beyond the end of 2020, when his current contract expires. 

“The Max [Verstappen] one I think is interesting, because it’s a clear sign that he’s not going to go to Mercedes,” he added.

“That’s the only thing that would have taken Max away from Red Bull, is if there was an opportunity to go to Mercedes, and the fact that he’s now committed to Red Bull, the message clearly is that the door was closed for him at Mercedes.

“That’s my reading into it, and now I suppose it’s all eyes on what Lewis does. That’s the big question.”

Asked who he feels would be quicker in the same car out of Verstappen and Hamilton, Chandhok replied: “That’s an impossible question to answer. I think I would have loved to have seen that happen because of that.

“It’s the same thing of when [Aryton] Senna went to McLaren in ’88, and went up against [Alain] Prost, or when Prost went to McLaren up against Lauda.

“You want to see these two giants go up against each other, and then we’ll get the answer on-track. But unfortunately, that doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.”

 

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