Toto Wolff admits Charles Leclerc is on his radar as Lewis Hamilton delays contract

With rumours swirling over his future at Ferrari, Jacques Villeneuve has claimed that Charles Leclerc’s departure from the Italian team is only a matter of time.

As Lewis Hamilton considers his future at Mercedes, the Silver Arrows have identified Charles Leclerc as a potential replacement when the seven-time world champion decides to call time on his career with the team.

Hamilton’s contract expires at the end of the 2023 season, with the Brit yet to sign an extension with Mercedes despite both sides reportedly keen to put ink to a deal.

While Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is clear that his desired outcome is to retain Hamilton’s services for as long as he remains in the sport, the Austrian admitted he has to prepare for the day that the Brit walks away.

“You should always have a guy like Charles on your radar, but not in the short or medium term,” Wolff revealed amid rumours Mercedes were trying to poach Leclerc.

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

Villeneuve confident Leclerc will leave Ferrari

Former Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve believes that Leclerc’s move to Mercedes, or at least away from Ferrari, is inevitable, as the Italian team struggles to find winning ways again.

With Ferrari far off the pace of its rivals, the team has lost key members in recent years, most notably sporting director Laurent Mekies, who is departing to become AlphaTauri’s team principal at the end of the season.

Villeneuve has warned this exit is the first of many, describing the situation at Ferrari as “chaos.”

“People go and leave. It’s chaos as always. They’ve been imploding for years,” Villeneuve told

Article continues below

“It seems like a story that never ends. Usually you have a moment when you stop imploding but it goes on and on.”

Charles Leclerc not concerned by rumours

Leclerc is believed to be frustrated with Ferrari since last year, when his shot at a maiden Drivers’ title was thrown away by poor strategy calls, leading to the departure of Mattia Binotto at the end of the 2022 season.

READ: Charles Leclerc denies he’s ‘tired’ at Ferrari amid Mercedes links

2023 has been even tougher for Leclerc, as he suffered two DNFs in the first three races of the season.

The Monegasque bounced back in Azerbaijan, taking pole in the Sprint race and Grand Prix, as well as securing his first podiums of the year in both events.

“The team knows what I want and what I have in mind and that’s the most important thing,” Leclerc said.