Leclerc ready to "push" for new Ferrari F1 deal despite other options

Charles Leclerc has said he is ready to "push" for a long-term Formula 1 future at Ferrari, even though options exist elsewhere on the grid. 

Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, during the drivers' parade

The Monegasque driver’s current contract runs out at the end of the 2024 season and there has been no rush from either his side or Ferrari’s to get an extension sorted out so far. 

That delay, allied to a frustrating campaign with Ferrari that did not deliver the results hoped for, triggered speculation about other teams vying for Leclerc’s service. 

Front-runners Mercedes, Aston Martin and Red Bull have all been viewed as potential options for him as there could be vacancies by 2025. 

But despite obviously weighing up other opportunities, Leclerc has made it clear that his priority is to fulfil his dream and win the F1 championship with Ferrari, and that seeing even the smallest of chance to achieve that would be enough to ensure he stays. 

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Autosport, Leclerc said it was natural drivers would weigh up chances they had elsewhere – but that did not sway his commitment to his current team. 

“Of course, I think every driver has considered their different options, once they get the [possibility],” he said. 

“But I have a huge love of Ferrari. And my first target and my first dream is to become a world champion with Ferrari, more than anything else.  

“So, if there's a slight opportunity for it to happen, I will have no doubt about pushing to stay here at least.” 

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Leclerc said he was not blind to how difficult things had been for the team this year, but insisted that is not a reason to believe things cannot improve. 

“It is clear, I think for everybody within the team, that we are not happy with the situation we are in today, in that we want to win,” he said.  

“But I love Ferrari. It feels like home to me. And I cannot say much more because there has been no discussion whatsoever apart from a few jokes here and there.” 

Leclerc played down any suggestion that the delay in getting contract talks underway was anything to be worried about, as he understood that Ferrari had to concentrate on making itself faster. 

“I just think it is not probably the priority at the moment: not for me, but neither for the team,” he said. “We are just focusing on what's really important now.  

“It is to be as competitive as quickly as possible again. And then we'll see. But again, I love Ferrari and it feels like home.” 

No catching Red Bull 

Ferrari had hoped to build on its race-winning form from 2022 to fight for the world championship this year. 

However, it has found itself on the backfoot with rival Red Bull having produced a dominant RB19 car that has won all the grands prix so far. 

Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, in the post-qualifying Press Conference

Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari, in the post-qualifying Press Conference

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Although Ferrari has made good progress in getting to the bottom of the inconsistency problems that have hurt it on Sundays, Leclerc feels it is too much to expect it to close the entire gap to Red Bull before the end of the campaign. 

However, he thinks that Ferrari can get itself into a position to end the year as best of the rest, and ahead of main rivals Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin. 

“I think the realistic target, at least [the one] we want to fix ourselves, is to be the strongest team after Red Bull and to close the gap to Red Bull,” he said. 

“Then, for 2024, there are no doubts that in everybody's mind the target is to be back on top and fighting Red Bull.

“I believe realistically, and this is only my opinion, that before the end of the year, we won't be able to catch Red Bull. But the target will be at least to be in front of McLaren, Mercedes, and Aston Martin. This will be our target.”

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