Formula 1: How much more can Charles Leclerc put up with?

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Formula 1 (Photo by Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Formula 1 (Photo by Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images) /

Charles Leclerc envisioned winning Formula 1 world championships with Ferrari. How much more will the superstar put up with before he jumps ship?

When Charles Leclerc signed the longest Formula 1 contract in the history of Ferrari in 2019, both sides envisioned success at the highest level.

Ferrari, the most decorated team in Formula 1 history, dreamed of a future that would add more titles to the trophy case, and Leclerc would have a legitimate shot to rack up several world championships with the most famous team in motorsport.

However, to this point, those ambitious dreams have yet to culminate. The dominance of Mercedes was superseded by a feisty Red Bull team, led by cutthroat principal Christian Horner and generational talent Max Verstappen. Instead of competing for the championship, Ferrari found themselves in a third wheel position, the back of the top three teams.

It’s a position that the other seven teams would dream to be in. Each position in the constructor championship equates to millions of dollars in reward money, along with bragging rights as one of the “big boys” of Formula 1.

Yet for Ferrari, third isn’t good enough when you’re 16-time Formula 1 world champions, and frustration is starting to brew.

Dysfunction began to come to the forefront last year, after a slew of miscues by the drivers and strategy team quickly took Ferrari out of the running for any championship.

Pressure built on team principal Mattia Binotto, who was eventually sacked from his role in the offseason. Leclerc could be heard on team radio venting his frustration on several instances throughout the season.

A changing of the guard from Binotto to Frederic Vasseur offered a glimpse of hope for the Scuderia. A fresh slate for the 2023 season and a penalty for reigning champions Red Bull that would affect the car’s performance offered an optimistic attitude.

Yet just two races into the season, hope is quickly fading. An engine issue in the first race of the season forced Leclerc to retire from third place and then take a 10-place grid penalty for Jeddah, and he wasn’t able to fight the likes of the Red Bulls, Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, and the Mercedes drivers, finishing just behind his teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in seventh.

More notably, the Ferrari lost significant pace compared to 2022. Combined with the blistering speed of Red Bull, the continued strength of Mercedes, and now a competitive Aston Martin car, red flags are now popping up within the Ferrari world.

Granted, there is plenty of time for improvements. But nevertheless, the field is beginning to strengthen, and Ferrari need to find pace to stay close to the top.

Charles Leclerc’s contract is set to expire at the end of the 2024 season. If things implode, where could the Monegasque go?

A lot can change in the course of a season. Even more can change in two seasons. But as of now, it seems as though Leclerc is generally dissatisfied with the direction in which the team are going.

Interestingly enough, the contract of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez is also set to expire at the end of the 2024 season. And while Perez has put up consistently strong results alongside Verstappen, the prospect of a Verstappen-Leclerc duo could be incredibly enticing to Horner and the Red Bull team.

Furthermore, Verstappen and Leclerc have a long history of racing against each other going back to their karting days, and they have developed a bond over the years.

As the rumor mill swirls, there has also been talk of a game-changing driver swap with Lewis Hamilton. It would be one of the biggest moves in recent Formula 1 history. Hamilton has heaped praise on Ferrari over the years, and Ferrari would get one of the greatest drivers of all-time on their side.

It would also allow Leclerc to switch to another top team in the sport. But don’t hold your breath on this one — Leclerc recently poured cold water on the idea of a swap to Mercedes.

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Leclerc has expressed his desire to win championships with Ferrari on countless occasions. It’s one of the main reasons why he signed such a large contract in the first place. But if the Scuderia continue to struggle at the highest level, we could very well see the end of Leclerc in scarlet and yellow.