Charles Leclerc to replace Lewis Hamilton

Charles Leclerc recently dismissed rumours that he had signed a huge contract extension with Ferrari.

Charles Leclerc has endured a tough campaign with Ferrari, and his latest outing in Zandvoort was yet another example of Leclerc having a poor weekend.

After picking up damage, the Ferrari driver struggled for pace as he languished towards the bottom of the grid.

And, after failing to make any sort of impression, Leclerc ultimately retired from the Dutch Grand Prix.

There has been plenty of speculation about his future this year, with his current Ferrari deal expiring at the end of 2024.

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In light of what seems to be Ferrari’s lack of significant progress, Le Mans winner Richard Bradley has put forth the idea that numerous teams, including Mercedes, could be interested in securing the talents of Charles Leclerc. 

Although Leclerc has denied any frustration with Ferrari’s performance, Bradley speculates that the Monégasque driver could explore opportunities beyond Ferrari, particularly considering the potential scenarios at Mercedes and Aston Martin.

Leclerc, who had dreams of contending for a championship following his distant P2 finish in last year’s standings, experienced disappointment during pre-season testing as Ferrari realised their SF-23 missed the mark. 

While rival teams like Mercedes and McLaren have managed to make substantial in-season upgrades, Ferrari has struggled to catch up. 

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With only three podiums in 13 races and a lack of competitiveness against Red Bull, speculation has arisen that Leclerc might be growing frustrated with Ferrari’s sluggish progress. 

Despite his reassurances that he wants to achieve success with Ferrari, Bradley believes other enticing options might emerge for Leclerc.

Bradley expressed, “At the end of the day he’s not really a rookie anymore, he’s quite an experienced Formula One driver and his street credibility in the paddock is very, very high. 

“There’s a lot of people who would seriously consider Leclerc. 

“What if Hamilton retires? Mercedes for sure would have the conversation with him. 

“And then Aston Martin with the Stroll situation. 

“All of a sudden you look at the line-up of Alonso and Leclerc, and that’s extremely exciting. So I don’t really blame him.”

Amid Leclerc’s potential frustrations with Ferrari, the team’s management may also be concerned by Leclerc’s series of crashes this season. 

“His crashes at the Dutch Grand Prix, including one during qualifying and another on the opening lap of the race, have hindered his efforts to secure points. 

“Bradley observed that Leclerc might be attempting to drive the Ferrari too aggressively, possibly reflecting a desire to emulate the driving style of a Red Bull car. 

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“He contrasted Leclerc’s approach with Carlos Sainz’s methodical and composed style, which allowed him to clinch fifth place at Zandvoort.

Bradley remarked, “He’s started to overdrive basically. 

“If you look at what Sainz did, very, very mature. Very calm, collected, all the right decisions, and he definitely finished higher than that car deserved to finish.”