F1 news outlets might be focused on Charles Leclerc’s difficult weekend in Brazil, but contract talks for 2024 and beyond have begun.
Charles Leclerc currently occupies 7th place in the F1 standings, which is almost certainly a tough pill for the Monegasque to swallow. Misfortune and missed opportunities have characterised his 2023 campaign.
Aside from his current points total, there are other consequences to the 25-year-old’s difficult spell. As this season draws to a close, Ferrari is working to convince the 5-time race winner to sign a contract extension with the team.
Like many drivers, Leclerc’s contract expires at the end of 2024. This means that next year’s transfer market (affectionately known as ‘silly season’) could be quite dynamic. For the Italian team, however, the objective will be to avoid any drama with their driver pairing.
Carlos Sainz is also on a contract that expires next season, meaning Ferrari has two deals to negotiate. It goes without saying that Ferrari wants to secure Leclerc’s services for the long term.
Having risen through the junior categories into Formula 1 via the Ferrari Academy, the relationship between Leclerc and the Scdueria is well-established. Over the last five seasons, Leclerc can be attributed with several moments of brilliance with the team.
Although his qualifying prowess is often highlighted, performances such as Bahrain 2022 or Silverstone 2021 are examples of his abilities over a race distance.
Contract talks begin
According to recent reports, Ferrari has started contract negotiations with Leclerc. This was always expected to happen, with the fast-approaching winter break an opportunity for teams to discuss the future.
On paper, both parties want their partnership to work. The Italian outfit hasn’t won a Championship for over a decade, and they believe Leclerc can be the person to break this duct.
On the Monegasque’s side, there is no secret of his affinity for Ferrari. Until now, there have been no serious conversations with rival teams about a shock move.
Moreover, there aren’t many alternatives in the market. Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes (for different though largely apparent reasons) aren’t realistic destinations for Charles Leclerc.
For all Ferrari’s difficulties, there are only a handful of teams that would represent a forward step. At least until the F1 regulations change, the Maranello-based team should be a front-running team.
Still, it will be crucial to observe if there are any announcements over the winter. If an agreement is reached, then it silences any potential speculation. If Leclerc waits until the start of next year to sign a contract, this doesn’t necessarily mean a switch is imminent.
What it does signify, however, is that Ferrari must prove they are progressing. This isn’t necessarily to keep the 26-year-old at Maranello for 2025. As mentioned previously, it is unlikely he will switch teams before the next regulation change.
But Ferrari wants to ensure Leclerc can have confidence in the project. Otherwise, they risk only agreeing to a short-term contract, which could leave their star driver on the market for 2026.