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Respected Italian F1 journalist Leo Turrini reveals the entire Formula One paddock knows Charles Leclerc is talking to Mercedes
Charles Leclerc has had a disappointing start to his 2023 Formula One campaign. An engine failure stole away his all-but-guaranteed podium in Bahrain. With said engine issues set to plague him the following weekend. Leclerc had to serve a 10-place grid penalty in Saudi Arabia after taking a new control electronics box outside of his allocation. And the Monegasque didn’t even complete the first lap last time out in Australia after colliding with Lance Stroll.
Comparing the start of this season to last year, Leclerc had a significant lead in the drivers’ championship after three races in 2022. Considering he is currently P10 in the drivers’ championship, it is understandable that he may be weighing up his options for the future.
While the Ferrari driver has previously denied that he was having talks with the Silver Arrows, it seems that the rumour mill is back at it. Leo Turrini, a renowned Italian Formula One journalist, revealed the following in a piece he wrote for Quotidiano Nazionale:
“[Charles] Leclerc is talking to Mercedes, [it] is the open secret. Everyone knows it, from the remote garage in Maranello to the Indian Ocean.”
On which Mercedes driver Leclerc could replace, Turrini said: “[George] Russell is very, very strong. But if [Lewis] Hamilton were to stop, whoever pays in Stuttgart might not accept another [Valtteri] Bottas alongside a driver who is not yet a world champion.”
The seven-time champion only has a contract with the Silver Arrows until the end of 2023, with no deal in sight. Is Mercedes considering Leclerc as Hamilton’s possible replacement?
After five years with Ferrari, could Leclerc change teams in 2024?
Further along in his piece, Turrini discusses the Monegasque’s “unfinished career.” He continues, “He [Leclerc] is the first to know that time is passing.”
The Ferrari driver is currently competing in his sixth season in Formula One. And he has spent all but one of those years with the Scuderia. During that time, he has won five races, stood on 23 podiums, and is only 25. Considering the likes of Fernando Alonso (41) and Hamilton (38) are still performing competitively at the pinnacle of motorsport, Leclerc has plenty of time left in his career.
But maybe Sebastian Vettel’s parting advice to Leclerc could influence the Monegasque’s decision if he is conscious of time. When the German left Ferrari at the end of 2020, he gave Leclerc one of his helmets with a message. The four-time world champion wrote:
“To Charles, you are the most talented driver I came across in 15 years of F1. Don’t waste it. But be sure whatever you do to be happy and smile. Thanks for everything.”
"To Charles, you are the most talented driver I came across in 15 years of F1. Don't waste it. But be sure whatever you do to be happy and smile. Thanks for everything!"
– Sebastian Vettel ❤️
📸 Morgan Caron / All Road Management pic.twitter.com/iX2LVkbhVz
— Formula 1 (@F1) December 14, 2020
Feature Image Credit: @ScuderiaFerrari on Twitter