Red Bull claim Charles Leclerc can breach his Ferrari contract and join Mercedes in 2024

Charles Leclerc has scored just six points from the opening three races this season.

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko believes Charles Leclerc might be able to escape his contract at Ferrari for 2024, with the Austrian expecting the Monegasque’s current deal to include “performance clauses”.

Leclerc’s future has been an interesting topic at the start of the week, following a report by respected F1 journalist Leo Turrini, who stated that Leclerc is talking to Mercedes.

Supposedly, Leclerc isn’t the only Ferrari driver potentially on the move, with Carlos Sainz having been reported as a leading candidate for Audi in 2026.

Marko isn’t buying into the suggestions that Sainz could switch to the German manufacturer, though, with the 79-year-old questioning the truth behind the rumour.

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“More or less anyone can put something online these days,” Marko told Sport1.

With Sainz currently sitting ahead of Leclerc in the Drivers’ Championship, Marko doesn’t understand why Ferrari would allow the Spaniard to leave, with the 28-year-old “doing a good job”.

“Reports can no longer be verified,” Marko insisted. “But why should Ferrari part ways with Carlos? That doesn’t make sense.

“Carlos is doing a good job. Ferrari has other problems than thinking about Sainz.”

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So, whilst Sainz will likely remain at the Maranello-based team for a little while longer, Leclerc’s future beyond 2023 is up in the air.

Whilst he is contracted until the end of 2024, Leclerc’s immediate future seemingly depends on Lewis Hamilton, and whether the seven-time World Champion signs a contract extension or not.

Hamilton’s current deal expires this year, meaning Leclerc could make the switch should the 38-year-old retire or move teams.

However, perhaps to Leclerc’s disappointment, Hamilton has expressed his intentions to remain at Mercedes, after hailing the Germans as “family”.

“Everyone knows about it, including in Maranello,” Turrini wrote in his Quotidiano Nazionale column, regarding Leclerc talking to Mercedes.

“Leclerc understands that time is ticking and if Lewis Hamilton decides to leave, then Mercedes will want to get a champion-level driver to partner with George Russell.”

If Leclerc is truly unhappy with Ferrari’s performance then Marko believes he could leave come the end of the year, whether that’s to move to Mercedes or another team.

Marko expects that Leclerc’s current deal includes certain clauses which would allow him to terminate his contract, should he have not scored a certain number of points by a set point in the year.

The Red Bull advisor explained that it was due to clauses in Sebastian Vettel’s contract which allowed him to move to Ferrari in 2015 so effortlessly, with 2014 having been a woeful season for the Austrians.

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“These performance clauses are common today,” he said.

“It roughly states that a driver must have a certain number of points at a certain point in the season, usually in late summer, in order for the contract to be automatically renewed.

“If this is not the case, both parties have the option of terminating. It was for this reason that Sebastian Vettel was able to switch to Ferrari so easily in 2015.”