The relationship between Charles Leclerc and the Ferrari Formula 1 team has been filled with conflict, particularly concerning qualifying and race strategies. It comes as no surprise that rumors are circulating about the Monegasque driver potentially leaving Ferrari. However, former world champion Damon Hill believes Leclerc is trapped in a difficult situation.
When asked about Ferrari’s performance compared to his initial expectations, Charles Leclerc conceded that they are facing more difficulties than he had anticipated.
Last year, he emerged as the strongest contender against Max Verstappen, finishing second in the championship. However, both he and Ferrari experienced a significant downturn in the latter half of the season, ultimately ending their title aspirations.
Leclerc admits Ferrari struggles weren’t his expectation
Coming into this year, Leclerc and his team anticipated being the primary challengers to Verstappen and Red Bull. However, the reality has been different, with Ferrari only managing to secure the fourth-fastest car on the grid. Talk of championship contention seems like a mere fantasy given their current situation.
Leclerc has showcased impressive pace in qualifying sessions, as demonstrated by his pole positions in both the Sprint and main events in Azerbaijan. However, the SF-23 has proven to be lacking in race pace, primarily due to severe tire degradation.
These challenges have fueled speculation that Leclerc might consider parting ways with Ferrari. The 25-year-old’s current contract expires at the end of next year, and his visible frustration in recent weeks has fueled speculation about his future.
While Leclerc was previously linked with Mercedes, it appears that Lewis Hamilton is set to sign a contract extension, eliminating the possibility of such a move. Leclerc has also denied reports suggesting he has engaged in discussions with the Silver Arrows team.
Paddock ‘insider’ claims Alpine a good destination
“The big figure there is Charles Leclerc. Without any doubt at all, the guy will be unbelievably frustrated and very annoyed,” says paddock ‘insider’ Peter Windsor on his Youtube channel,
“And he’ll be wanting either Ferrari to magically get their act together and the car to be really quick, or he’ll be thinking [about leaving].
“He may even be thinking, ‘Alpine might be better than this lot in terms of my driving and doing what I know I can do. Look at them – top 10 every Q3 now’. He might be thinking like that. He might be that desperate.
“I’m not saying Alpine’s a massively bad thing to do… all I’m saying is he might be that desperate to leave Ferrari. Let’s say he left Ferrari and went to Alpine, that would be quite interesting, wouldn’t it?”
Damon Hill says Leclerc is at an impasse…
Former world champion Damon Hill believes Leclerc is trapped in a difficult situation.
In an interview with the British tabloid “The Express,” the 1996 Formula One world champion pondered Leclerc’s options and concluded that there are none.
Hill speculated that a move to Aston Martin, the surprise team of the current season, could be the most likely option for Leclerc. However, he acknowledged that Fernando Alonso already has a two-year contract with the team.
Hill suggested that Alonso might consider giving up his cockpit for the next season if the financial offer was enticing enough, although he also acknowledged that the experienced Spanish driver might not want to relinquish a competitive advantage.
On the other hand, it remains uncertain if a seat will become available alongside Alonso in the future. Lance Stroll has been driving for the Lawrence Stroll-owned racing team since 2019, but his performance has been relatively average. Despite occasional points finishes, Stroll currently sits eighth in the drivers’ standings, clearly behind Fernando Alonso.
Schumacher says Aston Martin must be Leclerc’s target
Whether there will be a vacancy at Alonso’s side in the future remains completely open, but after the race in Spain, “Sky” pundit Ralf Schumacher discussed the possibility of Leclerc driving alongside Alonso in the future.
He noted that while Mercedes and Red Bull have traditionally been the top choices, Aston Martin could also be an attractive option for Leclerc. If Lance Stroll fails to meet the team’s season targets, Aston Martin may need a strong second driver alongside Alonso.
“So far it has always been Mercedes and Red Bull. But I think a hot candidate is also Aston Martin, because they also have to look around. Alonso will drive for another year. Who knows, if his son (Lawrence Stroll’s son Lance) doesn’t meet the season’s targets, he’ll need a second strong driver alongside Fernando Alonso.”