"My dream remains to win world titles together with Ferrari and I am sure we will have great times in the years to come and make our fans happy" - that was Charles Leclerc, immediately after announcing his contract extension at Ferrari.
The Monegasque had an expiring contract, but even after 2024 he will continue to drive for "several more years" at the Scuderia.
It was news that had been in the air for some time and, according to Italian media, the 26 year-old has signed a contract until 2029. That would mean he has a longer-term contract than Max Verstappen, who is known to have a contract through 2028 with Red Bull.
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Leclerc is Ferrari, Ferrari is Leclerc
Both Leclerc and Carlos Sainz had expiring contracts at Ferrari. After 2024 they were free agents on paper, but this winter period both men wanted clarity on their futures. So while Leclerc has received it, Sainz seems to have to sit in the waiting room a little longer.
That Leclerc is the first of the two to put his signature on a new commitment seems only logical. Although the two were not inferior to each other in terms of points total last year and Sainz was even the only one to win a race, Charles is and will remain "the child of Ferrari." For eight years he has been part of the family and internally he is clearly the darling.
The pay gap is there and Leclerc makes no secret of the fact that he wants nothing more than to win world titles with Ferrari. That's his dream, a dream he wants to achieve in the coming years.
No other top seat for Leclerc
That Leclerc remains loyal to Ferrari is only logical looking at the market. Every top team has its drivers pretty much fixed for the next few years.
Verstappen is the Red Bull hero and Sergio Perez's seat is perhaps the most and least sought-after seat in F1. It can make or break your career. Many an F1 fan starts drooling at the idea, but Team Principal Christian Horner has already hinted several times that there is no place for another number one driver at the team.
That number one is Leclerc at Ferrari, as much as Sainz would like it not to be. With George Russell, Mercedes already has a successor their star driver Lewis Hamilton, while McLaren has Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri signed on long-term contracts.
Focus switches to 2026
For the next two years Leclerc will have to make do - most likely - with sporadic podium finishes and wins. Red Bull reigns supreme in the current ground effect era of F1 and it seems likely that this will continue to be the case in 2024 and 2025. For its part, Ferrari is struggling a bit and dejection has been seen and heard from Leclerc from time to time in recent seasons.
Naturally the field the will converge, but Red Bull's lead is such that realistically Ferrari and the rest will only be fighting for best of the rest. Especially when you consider that Mercedes and Ferrari built a whole new car again this winter, so they will have to start almost from scratch. With major rule changes coming in 2026, they will not be changing course again in the winter of 24/25. The 2025 car will be a further development of the one built in 2024.
Leclerc was not born yesterday either and will know that it is not until 2026 that a new opportunity really presents itself to aim for titles with Ferrari and knock Verstappen off his throne. In the background, the puzzle pieces are currently being put together to enter the next F1 era with two stretched legs. At the start of the current era Ferrari got off to a good start, but they ran into problems with their car concept which forced the change in direction for this year.
Team Principal, Frederic Vasseur, was appointed to smooth out all the Ferrari folds in the coming years. At least the way back up seems to have begun. So although on paper Leclerc and Ferrari seem to be simply condemned to each other, in practice they do have a lot of faith in each other. For now, Leclerc will continue to watch Verstappen rake in the victories, but the Monegasque will then be able to make Verstappen's life a nightmare from 2026.