Charles Leclerc is in negotiations with Mercedes to replace Lewis Hamilton in 2024

Lewis Hamilton's contract expires this season whilst Charles Leclerc's Ferrari deal is set to expire at the end of 2024.

An incredible amount appears to be resting on seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton signing a multi-year extension with Mercedes, following a report that Charles Leclerc is the most likely driver to take his place should he decide to leave the Silver Arrows.

It’s been reported by respected F1 journalist Leo Turrini that the Ferrari man “is talking to Mercedes”, with it being an “open secret” in the paddock.

A move to Mercedes for Leclerc depends solely on Hamilton’s future, with the 38-year-old yet to sign a new deal.

He has told the media that a new deal with the Silver Arrows will be signed at some point this season; however, until the contract is signed his future will remain in the headlines.

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Both Mercedes and Ferrari have endured a challenging start to the 2023 F1 season but it’s the Italians who’ve arguably faced the more difficult year so far.

The Maranello-based team are struggling for pace and for reliability, with Leclerc having suffered from a power unit failure at the opening round.

George Russell, though, suffered a shock engine failure at the recent round in Australian, something which came as a huge surprise given how reliable Mercedes’ engines usually are.

A move to Mercedes for Leclerc has been suggested for a little while, with the only issue being the fact that as things stand, there isn’t a seat at Brackley for him.

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Leclerc is believed to be growing frustrated with Ferrari and their lack of performance, especially with the 25-year-old having retired from two out of three races so far this season.

The Ferrari star is currently contracted until the end of 2024 but whether he stays with the team until then seemingly depends on Hamilton.

“That Leclerc is talking to Mercedes is the open secret. Everyone knows it, from the remote garage in Maranello to the Indian Ocean,” Turrini wrote in his blog for Quotidiano Nazionale.

“In his career so far, Carletto showed flashes of pure class. He is the first to know that time is passing.”

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One thing which does appear off the cards is Hamilton moving in the other direction to Ferrari, meaning a straight swap is highly unlikely.

Turrini admitted that Hamilton has “never” been close to joining the Scuderia, with him being set on remaining with Mercedes until he retires.

“On the other hand, I know that Hamilton has never been close to the red team. [Luca Di] Montezemolo thought about it when he was disappointed in Alonso, but Lewis had already settled in Mercedes. There was never a deal. Never.”