Charles Leclerc aware ‘time is passing’ amid Lewis Hamilton rumour

Lewis Hamilton has expressed his intent on signing a new contract with Mercedes.

Respected Formula 1 journalist Leo Turrini has reported that Charles Leclerc and Mercedes are currently having talks, with it being an “open secret” in the paddock.

Leclerc switching to Mercedes is something which has been suggested in the past, especially for when seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton retires from F1 or leaves the Silver Arrows.

Hamilton’s current deal expires this season, but he has expressed his intent on signing a new deal, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff having also shared that the team are planning for a future with the 38-year-old.

This would likely close the door to Leclerc until the likes of 2025 or even 2026, but if talks are already taking place, are Mercedes planning a backup option should Hamilton change his mind regarding his future.

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Leclerc is believed to be becoming growingly disgruntled at Ferrari, with reliability and poor performance being a huge concern for the Maranello-based team.

As things stand, Ferrari are fourth in the standings and stand little chance of claiming a victory, with Leclerc perhaps realising that “time is passing” on his F1 career.

With him being 25 years old, he’s approaching some vital years of his career, with a move away from Ferrari currently appearing to be his only chance of becoming World Champion.

“That Leclerc is talking to Mercedes is the open secret,” Turrini reports. “Everyone knows it, from the remote garage in Maranello to the Indian Ocean.

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“In his unfinished career, he showed flashes of pure class. He is the first to know that time is passing.

“Russell is very, very strong. But if Hamilton were to stop, whoever pays in Stuttgart might not accept another Bottas alongside a driver who is not yet a World Champion.”

One thing that has been suggested is for Hamilton and Leclerc to switch seats; however, Turrini revealed that the Briton has “never” been close to signing for the Italians.

Ferrari’s president was interested in signing Hamilton to potentially replace Sebastian Vettel, but the Mercedes driver wasn’t interested.

Whilst Turrini believes Hamilton moving to Maranello would be “sensational”, he questions if it’s actually the right move for both parties, with the Italians needing “more than a marketing operation”.

“What would he do if he realised that he could no longer win with the Silver Arrow?” Turrini questions. “I do not know.

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“On the other hand, I know that Hamilton has never been close to the Reds. There was never a negotiation. Never.

“It is true that John Elkann, who became president after Marchionne’s death, asked for information on Hamilton’s contract. We were in 2019, Vettel was almost at the end of his credits, but Lewis having won titles in a flurry running alone (copyright Alonso) was not in the least interested in the prospect.

“Today, 2023, but with the contracts in force in Maranello we are talking about 2025, the media hit would be sensational. But Ferrari needs much more than a marketing operation.”