Charles Leclerc tipped to ditch Ferrari and replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

Ferrari's latest dubious strategy call arguably cost Charles Leclerc the win in Budapest last weekend.

Charles Leclerc has been praised for his response to Ferrari’s woeful strategy decisions at the Hungarian Grand Prix, but it has been suggested that he could leave the Scuderia and replace Sir Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

The 24-year-old started behind Carlos Sainz in third as they both started the race on one of their two fresh sets of Mediums coming into the weekend.

The pair switched places during the initial pit stop phase, with the Monegasque getting ahead having performed the overcut.

The now lead Ferrari passed polesitter George Russell for the lead of the race, before Max Verstappen, who had started 10th but made his way up to fourth, pitted for another set of Mediums.

Instead of keeping Leclerc out on his Mediums, as they did with Sainz, the Scuderia pitted Leclerc for Hards, leaving him vulnerable to Verstappen in the third stint of the race.

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The Red Bull driver passed his title rival as a result, before Leclerc stopped again for fresh Softs, but finished sixth as he failed to close on Sergio Perez.

Sainz had to settle for fourth having been passed by Sir Lewis Hamilton, who had mirrored the Spaniard’s strategy before passing Russell for second.

Leclerc was unhappy with the decision to put him on Hards, and he expressed these feelings to his team on the radio.

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“The Hards were so bad, that’s why I said that I wanted to stay on the Mediums for as long as possible,” he explained.

“The Hards were really bad, was this the same for everyone or was this only for us?”

“I think it was the same for everyone with the Hards,” replied his engineer Xavi Marcos.

“Why did we go on it, I mean what was the reason then?” queried Leclerc, before receiving an answer which we cannot make out.

“Are we the only ones with ones with three stops?” queried Leclerc, before Marcos replied, “of the front-runners yes, at the back, some people with three stops.”

Leclerc was praised by fans on social media for his reaction to the strategic howler.

“I like his questions. Getting them to admit their stupidity for us outside the debrief,” said one.

“The fact that he said the hard was as bad for everyone and then them still putting them on is absolutely bonkers,” commented another.

A third suggested that Leclerc will jump ship and go to Mercedes when Hamilton leaves if Ferrari continue to cost him races and, ultimately, championships.

“At this point you can’t be upset if he does end up at Mercedes. Unbelievable the incompetence of a singular team,” they added.

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Verstappen now leads Leclerc by 80 points in the Drivers’ Standings, with Red Bull holding a 97-point lead over the Scuderia in the teams’ battle.

Mercedes’ second double podium of the season leaves them just 30 points behind Ferrari.