Charles Leclerc warned to stay at Ferrari despite Lewis Hamilton rumour

Charles Leclerc has been linked with a move to Audi, although the Germans are reportedly behind on their 2026 power unit.

Autosport Formula 1 journalist Matt Kew has suggested that Charles Leclerc’s best option when looking to the future could be to simply stay with Ferrari, due to concerns with a side he’s been linked to.

Whilst Leclerc is currently contracted to Ferrari until the end of 2024, the general expectation is that he will sign an extension with the side.

However, the big question is what comes for the Monegasque afterwards?

Leclerc has often been seen as Ferrari’s golden boy and their best hope of claiming a first title since 2008; however, driver errors have downplayed these suggestions.

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In fact, Carlos Sainz is arguably the Maranello-based team’s lead driver currently, having not only claimed pole position and a podium at the side’s home race, but with him having also become the first non-Red Bull driver to win a race this season.

Sainz heroically won the Singapore Grand Prix this season, whilst Leclerc had to settle for fourth.

With Sainz leading Leclerc by 15 points in the Drivers’ Championship also, the Spaniard is looking set to defeat the Monegasque in the standings for the second time in three years.

Whilst Leclerc looked great at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix earlier in the year, he’s failed to really live up to his 2022 standards.

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Even in 2022 though, when he was momentarily fighting for the title against Max Verstappen, it was poor driver errors which ended Leclerc’s pursuit.

He infamously crashed out of the French Grand Prix whilst leading, something which clearly dented his confidence.

It wouldn’t come as a huge shock if Leclerc were to remain with Ferrari for the rest of his F1 career, but does he have any other options if he wanted to depart.

Realistically, no.

Kew doesn’t rate Leclerc as highly as the likes of Max Verstappen or George Russell, something which he thinks would make Red Bull and Mercedes opt against a swoop for the Ferrari driver.

One option could be a move to Audi when they complete their 75% takeover of Sauber in 2026; however, it’s been reported that the German manufacturer are considerably behind Red Bull and Mercedes in the development of their power unit.

As a result, simply sticking with Ferrari does appear to be Leclerc’s best option, unless he’s prepared to return to the midfield on a project.

“I asked myself this question by looking at the alternatives,” Kew said on the GP Racing podcast.

“So, if and when [Lewis] Hamilton retires, I think Mercedes, based on current form, is more likely to go for Lando Norris. However, perhaps there is a turn of events where Lando Norris goes to Red Bull to partner Max Verstappen.

“Depending on how those play out, McLaren, upwardly mobile at the minute, is an option for Leclerc, but I don’t see Red Bull or Mercedes going for Leclerc as a driver and I think that’s because he is rapid, and his racecraft is good, but I think he’s in a category ever so slightly below Verstappen and Russell.

“As like a naturally talented driver, I don’t think he’s quite a level for them in terms of intellect and how that can drive the team forward.

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“So then you look at the alternatives, which is maybe a mega payday at Sauber/Audi. Well, what you hear about them…you look at Sauber, they’re finally operating at the cost cap now they’ve had some investment from Ingolstadt, but they’ve made zero progress this season.

“And the rumours are Audi are months behind Red Bull Powertrains, months behind Mercedes with the 2026 engine regs, so basically, that’s not a competitive step forward.

“So, maybe you are better off staying at Ferrari just for a dearth of alternative opportunities.”