Charles Leclerc knew about Lewis Hamilton talks before signing new contract

Charles Leclerc's contract renewal was made public in January, with anticipation high for news of Carlos Sainz's continuance to follow suit.

Charles Leclerc purportedly received word of Ferrari’s interest in securing Lewis Hamilton’s signature from John Elkann and Fred Vasseur prior to commencing discussions about his recent contract extension, officially unveiled in January.

The freshly inked agreement binds the Monegasque driver to the squad until the culmination of the 2028 season, albeit with an escape clause among the stipulations.

The decision regarding the launch of Christian Horner’s car followed an update from Red Bull’s investigation.

Leclerc’s contract renewal was made public in January, with anticipation high for news of Carlos Sainz’s continuance to follow suit.

READ: Lewis Hamilton to be replaced by Italian driver

However, February’s advent brought unexpected turmoil as the Scuderia announced the acquisition of Hamilton for the 2025 season onwards.

According to reports from La Gazzetta dello Sport, Leclerc was privy to the intentions of recruiting Hamilton before his own commitment and consequently opted to include an ‘exit clause’.

It is suggested in the same report that he perceived Hamilton’s arrival at Maranello as a catalyst for enhancing his own performance level, presenting an opportunity to elevate his stature in the paddock by potentially outshining the seven-time world champion.

Mirroring Hamilton’s contract, the 25-year-old possesses an exit clause in 2026 if development doesn’t proceed as envisaged.

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Nonetheless, Leclerc expresses confidence that Hamilton’s presence will bolster Ferrari’s progress amidst the upcoming technical regulation overhaul, drawing from the veteran’s extensive experience within World Championship-winning teams.

While the anticipation for Hamilton’s arrival in 2025 is palpable, Leclerc and teammate Sainz remain steadfastly focused on the impending campaign.

Ferrari aims to close the gap on reigning champions Red Bull, seeking to augment their tally of one victory and seven pole positions secured last season.

READ: Lewis Hamilton announces championship withdrawal

Leclerc, eager to rebound from a vexing 2023, has much to prove this year.

Conversely, Sainz finds himself at a crossroads with no confirmed drive beyond the forthcoming season.

He eyes opportunities with Mercedes and Sauber, as they emerge as the most enticing options for the Spaniard to pursue.