Charles Leclerc signs Ferrari extension: ‘Best is yet to come’

Ferrari announced that driver Charles Leclerc has officially signed an extension with its Formula 1 team.

While Ferrari did not specify the length of the deal, the 26-year-old was reported to have agreed to a five-year extension that puts him under contract through the 2029 season. Leclerc’s deal had been set to expire following the upcoming season.

According to a report by Italy’s La Gazetta dello Sport last month, the extension includes an annual raise of more than $27 million and then $54 million in the final year. The agreement also reportedly includes performance-related exit clauses that could enable Leclerc to negotiate an exit after 2027 if he’s not satisfied with the Scuderia’s performance in Formula 1.

The Frenchman is coming off his fifth season with Ferrari’s F1 team, tying for fourth in the drivers’ standings with 206 points. That was six points ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz, who finished in seventh, with McLaren’s Lando Norris splitting the two with 205 points.

Ferrari also finished third in the constructors standings, just three points behind Mercedes and 104 clear of McLaren.

Leclerc rose through Ferrari’s Driver Academy and entered F1 with Sauber in 2018 before joining Ferrari the following year.

“(Charles’) values and those of our team are intertwined and so it was natural for us to be in agreement on extending our collaboration,” Ferrari team principal Frederic Vassuer said. “We know him for his incessant desire to push himself to the limit and we appreciate his extraordinary abilities when it comes to fighting and overtaking in a race.

“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.”

Leclerc has accumulated 23 poles, the most of any driver in history without a world championship, and they are tied with Niki Lauda for second all-time at Ferrari behind only seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher’s 58. However, he failed to win a race in 2023 and there was speculation that he may be open to moving to another team. Thursday’s announcement put an end to those rumors for the time being.

“I’m very pleased to know that I will be wearing the Scuderia Ferrari race suit for several more seasons to come,” Leclerc said. “To race for this team has been my dream since I was 3 years old — I used to watch the Monaco Grand Prix from the window of a friend’s apartment at Ste. Devote corner and I would always look out for the red cars.

“This team is my second family ever since I joined the Ferrari Driver Academy in 2016 and we have achieved a lot together, fighting through thick and thin over the past five years. However, I believe the best is yet to come.

“I can’t wait for this season to start, to make further progress and be competitive at every race. 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.”

Sainz, who won last year’s Singapore Grand Prix, said last month that he would like clarity on his future with the team before the start of the season. His current deal is set to expire at the end of 2024.