Milan: Charles Leclerc committed his future to Ferrari on Thursday after signing a contract renewal with the Italian Formula One outfit.
Ferrari did not specify the length of Leclerc’s new deal, merely saying that it took him “beyond the 2024 season” when his current contract expires.
But in their Italian statement the Scuderia said that Leclerc, who finished fifth last season and way behind world champion Max Verstappen, would be staying on for the “coming seasons”.
“I’m very pleased to know that I will be wearing the Scuderia Ferrari race suit for several more seasons to come. To race for this team has been my dream since I was three years old,” said Leclerc in a statement.
Winning World Championship
“My dream remains that of winning the world championship with Ferrari and I’m sure that in the years ahead, we will enjoy great times together and make our fans happy.”
Leclerc, 26, has been driving for Ferrari’s F1 team since 2019, one year after making his debut in the premier racing championship with Sauber.
The Monegasque had three years previously been at the Ferrari Driver Academy before winning the F2 championship in 2017.
Since joining the Scuderia Leclerc has won five Grands Prix, claimed 30 podium finishes and started on pole position 23 times.
But he has failed to put up a proper challenge for the world title as Verstappen and Red Bull snatched dominance of the sport from seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton in 2021.
Determination and commitment
The closest Leclerc has come to the drivers’ championship was in 2022 when he finished second behind Verstappen.
He ended that season 146 points off the pace and last season the gap was even larger, a whopping 369 points separating Leclerc from the Dutchman.
“Charles ... has been part of the Ferrari family for eight years now, dating back to a time before he first sported the prancing horse emblem on his race suit,” said Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur.
“We are determined to give Charles a winning car and I know that his determination and commitment are elements that can make the difference in helping us reach our goals.”
The coming F1 season begins on March 2 in Bahrain after three days of testing on the Gulf island in February.
Each of the 10 teams entering the 75th edition of the championship has the same driver pairings as last season, the majority of whom have contracts which expire at the end of this year.
In the meantime, Ferrari will reveal on February 13 the 2024 car which will be driven by Leclerc and his partner Carlos Sainz, whose contract is up at the end of the season.
Ferrari are yet to make an announcement regarding any contract extension for Sainz, who has not had the same long-term stability that has been afforded to Leclerc.