George Russell sings Charles Leclerc’s praise amid future partnership

Charles Leclerc is currently contracted to Ferrari until the end of 2024.

This weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix has currently been all about the ‘King of Baku’ Charles Leclerc, with the Monegasque having claimed pole position for both Saturday’s sprint race and Sunday’s main race.

The 25-year-old is so far enjoying his best weekend of the 2023 F1 season by a country-mile, with him being a real contender for a much-needed victory.

A win in Azerbaijan this weekend would perhaps bring the Ferrari driver back into title contention somewhat; however, just finishing on the podium will perhaps be seen a huge positive for Leclerc.

His year leading up to this weekend has so far been disastrous, with Leclerc having finished just one race.

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As a result, his future has been massively discussed, with many linking him to a switch to Mercedes, when Lewis Hamilton finally decides to retire.

It was reported by Italian media that Leclerc is openly talking to Mercedes; however, Toto Wolff confirmed in Azerbaijan that no talks have taken place, with the Silver Arrows focus being very much on Hamilton.

Should Leclerc replace Hamilton when the 38-year-old does retire, then George Russell will likely approve, given that the pair have spoken highly about one another in the past.

Russell was quick to praise Leclerc at last season’s Hungarian Grand Prix after a Ferrari strategic nightmare saw the Monegasque lose another victory, and vital points in his fight against Max Verstappen.

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“Max and Red Bull are cruising. I think Max and Charles are on a similar level at the moment,” Russell said after last season’s Hungarian GP

“I really feel for Charles, he’s doing a superb job and he’s been on the receiving end of a lot of bad luck.” 

Russell praising Leclerc shouldn’t come as much of a shock, with the pair having actually raced together for the same karting team in 2011, alongside Williams driver Alex Albon.

“I’ve actually been team-mates with George. It was a long time ago in karting,” Leclerc revealed.

“I think what I’ve seen of him since that time is that he’s just extremely talented, and every time he got into the kart back then, or the car now, he’s just quick straight away.”

The duo clearly share a strong relationship which would very much suit Mercedes, especially given that they’d likely want to replace Hamilton with an equally fast driver.

“His talent makes him special,” Leclerc said after Russell was promoted to Mercedes.

“I think he deserves his chance at Mercedes and I’m pretty sure he will perform very, very well and impress more than one person.”

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Whether Leclerc is destined for a future at Mercedes or not, one thing which is clear is that Russell would be open to partnering him or even Red Bull’s Verstappen, with the Briton predicting that a “fierce rivalry” could develop in a few years.

“I see that potentially there could be a fierce rivalry in the future so I look forward to that challenge,” Russell said two years ago.

“Whether that’s fighting against them in different cars, or whether that’s fighting against each other as team-mates.”