Charles Leclerc has revealed that discussions over a new deal to remain with Ferrari have “slowly” started recently.
After a hugely impressive debut season with the Italian outfit in 2019, Leclerc signed a record five-year extension to remain with Ferrari until the end of 2024.
However, with the terms of that agreement coming to an end at the close of next year, speculation over Leclerc’s long-term prospects has been rife in recent months.
After Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz, who also upholds a contract through 2024, stated that he intends to get his future sorted over the winter, Leclerc says he hasn’t attached any deadlines when it comes to securing his own drive beyond his current deal.
“No, I don’t have any particular deadlines,” he said. “I mean, I still feel like a year-and-a-half is a long way to go. But I didn’t tell myself any particular deadlines.”
Pressed on whether discussions have yet started on a renewal with Ferrari, Leclerc said: “Slowly. We’re starting slowly to speak about it, yes.”
Leclerc has repeatedly been linked with a switch to Mercedes, with the German side’s team boss Toto Wolff confirming the Monegasque racer was on his radar.
Meanwhile, ex-F1 race winner Ralf Schumacher suggested recently that the resurgent Aston Martin squad could be a potential landing spot for Leclerc if he intends to walk away from Ferrari.
But Leclerc has again quashed speculation linking him with a move away, underlining that he hasn’t even thought about the prospect of a switch to a rival team.
“To be honest, it’s not really on my mind yet,” he said regarding options outside of Ferrari for 2025.
“When I say we slowly started talking about it, it’s just here and there, but nothing special, nothing specific. Again, I feel like it’s a long way to go and I don’t feel it’s now the time to start talking about it.”
Having progressed into F1 with the Ferrari-powered Sauber outfit as a graduate of the Italian marque’s driver academy and then moved onto the senior side a year later, Leclerc’s current contractual situation is the first time he has realistically been in full control of his own destiny in the sport.
Nevertheless, the 25-year-old claims he intends to focus on his driving and helping Ferrari recover from a tough start to the year.
“It’s probably the first time in my career that I’m in this position,” he acknowledged.
“I don’t think [that’s] because nobody wanted me in the past, it’s just because the nature of the contract it’s the first time in my career that I actually get closer to a deal to end in Formula 1.
“And all of the other changes I’ve made until now – basically Sauber to Ferrari was quite straightforward. So, it is a different situation I find myself in in my career.
“But I don’t mind – I’m just focusing on driving, I just hope to win as quickly as possible in Ferrari for now and then we will see.”
Following the opening eight races of the year, Ferrari has only taken a solitary podium – courtesy of a third-place for Leclerc in Azerbaijan – and is still searching for its first victory of the campaign.
But despite winning at the Red Bull Ring last season – Ferrari’s last victory – Leclerc is not anticipating being able to challenge the dominant Red Bulls this weekend.
“Well, last year we were in a very different situation,” he conceded. “We arrived here with a very competitive car and we knew we could bring the fight to the Red Bull.
“Unfortunately, this year, we know that Red Bull is still quite far ahead in terms of race pace.
“So, it’s different targets. But, we also have some few upgrades on the car, which probably will help us move in the right direction.”