Charles Leclerc told to join Red Bull or snub Mercedes if Lewis Hamilton quits

Charles Leclerc has claimed just one podium from the opening five races of the 2023 Formula 1 season.

Former Ferrari and Williams team manager Peter Windsor has told Charles Leclerc that he’s “better off staying” at Maranello with new team principal Frederic Vasseur, who Windsor expects will turn the Italians around.

Leclerc has endured a miserable start to the 2023 Formula 1 season, with the Monegasque having finishing amongst the top three just once.

He suffered another woeful weekend at the recent Miami Grand Prix, where he crashed in the latter stages of Q3, before finishing seventh in the race.

Not for the first time this season, he was comfortably beaten by Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz, who has also started the year disappointingly.

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As a result of Leclerc’s struggles, he has been linked with a move away from Ferrari, with some having suggested that the 25-year-old could replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes if the Briton retires.

Leclerc confirmed at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, though, that he wasn’t speaking to the Silver Arrows, despite reports from Italy that he was holding secret conversations with the Brackley-based team.

“No, not yet,” Leclerc said. “Not at the moment.”

Even if a move to Mercedes was on the cards for Leclerc, Windsor believes the Ferrari driver would be better off remaining where he is.

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Partnering George Russell is something which Windsor believes would be a challenge for Leclerc, given that the Briton would be a considerably tougher team-mate to beat than Sainz.

Windsor also can’t see Leclerc moving to either Red Bull or Aston Martin, leaving Ferrari as the best place for him.

“Obviously, if Charles tomorrow was driving a Red Bull, he’d be winning grands prix at some point this year.

“It wouldn’t be easy against Max but he would be there or thereabouts and I think, if he was in a Red Bull, he’d be right up there for the Championship.

“But he’s not. And that’s not going to happen.

“I don’t think they’re ever going to put Charles Leclerc in a Red Bull so long as Max is in the other car.

“Which leaves what?

“It leaves Mercedes, it leaves Aston Martin, it leaves staying where you are.

“And right now, he’s probably better off staying with Freddy Vasseur, believing in Freddy’s talent at Ferrari, than he is going to Aston Martin, where it’ll be a bit of a mess, and Mercedes, where I guess he would only go there if he’s replacing Lewis.

“If he’s replacing Lewis he’s got George in the other car, who knows the team well.

“Probably he would enjoy being in England. He’d enjoy the whole anglophile Formula 1 team methodology after Ferrari, but it wouldn’t be easy.

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“That’s his only chance, if he goes to Mercedes and replaces Lewis.

“But then he’s got to beat George Russell. Not easy at all.

“Much more difficult than beating Carlos Sainz.”