Has Charles Leclerc taken away Lewis Hamilton’s leverage in Mercedes negotiations?

Several rival teams, including Red Bull and Mercedes, were eager to poach Charles Leclerc from Ferrari.

Charles Leclerc spoke to Red Bull, Mercedes, Alpine and Aston Martin before deciding to commit himself to Ferrari with a £160m contract.

Ferrari has had a torrid season overall in 2023, but the Monegasque driver has done decently for himself.

He sits at fifth on the Driver Standings with 99 points and secured a podium finish at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The new contract with Scuderia will mean he is tied to the Italian manufacturer for the next five years in this “mega-deal.”

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The contract would be structured as a two-year deal until the end of 2026.

There will be an option to extend for a further three years – until 2029.

Leclerc would be in his 30s by this time if he does opt for the three-year extension.

The total $160m worth means that the Monegasque racer will be paid $32m per year.

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This could rise to $43m by the final year of the contract.

If this deal goes through, Leclerc would have the longest contract on the entire F1 grid.

The news is not definite yet though, but if it proves true, it would take away from of Lewis Hamilton’s leverage, as a move to Ferrari would be off the table.

It was reported by the same sources that said Lewis Hamilton had finalised the details of a new Mercedes contract earlier this season – this turned out to be false.

Leclerc is often linked with Mercedes and touted as the man to replace Hamilton, when the Brit’s contract expires at the end of this year.

Esteemed F1 journalist, Peter Windsor, picked out Leclerc as his favourite to replace Hamilton at the Silver Arrows.

He said it would be an “interesting challenge,” to try and get the best out of the driver.

This came at a time when Leclerc was reportedly growing infuriated with Ferrari’s lack of competitiveness.

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The Monegasque racer blamed tyre wear, balance issues and mistakes from the team during Ferrari’s underwhelming 2023 season.

Windsor said: “He’s obviously got issues going on in his head to do with all the stuff that comes with the dramas at Ferrari and everywhere else.”

However, Leclerc has regularly declared that it is his “dream” to win an F1 championship in the red of Ferrari.