After cementing himself firmly within the furniture of the Ferrari team, Charles Leclerc’s impressive season has earned him a new deal, as the Monegasque looks to have leapt ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the teams’ pecking order.
Leclerc had replaced Kimi Raikkonen for the 2019 season and he inherited the famous red attire, where along with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, he has emerged as one of the defining figure-heads of F1’s new generation.
Having secured his name in Ferrari folklore after climbing to the top step of the podium at Monza in the teams’ home race, he is already a fan favourite. The 22-year-old acquired two race-wins, seven pole-positions – more than any other driver – and he achieved fourth in the championship, edging teammate Vettel.
Binotto determined to create history with Leclerc
After a year of many ups and downs for Ferrari’s team principal, Mattia Binotto, the Italian looks to the future in the form of Leclerc in Ferrari’s search for future success.
“With each passing race this year our wish to extend our contract with Charles became ever more self-evident and the decision means he will now be with us for the next five-years,” said Binotto.
“Charles has been part of our family since 2016 and we are more than proud of the results we are achieving with our academy.
“We are therefore very pleased to be able to announce that he will be with us for many years to come and I’m sure that together, we will write many new pages in the history of the Prancing Horse.”
Leclerc took to Twitter after his contract extension was announced and said, “I’m so grateful to be driving for such a team. I’ve learnt so much during this first year. It is a great starting point to build a strong relationship for the years ahead.”
What does the future hold for Vettel?
The four-time World Champion had lead Ferrari as the man to take the fight to Mercedes, though since the arrival of the youthful Leclerc, his status in the team looks to have shifted.
After being consistently out-performed throughout the season, his teammate heads into the new year with a multi-year contract, as Vettel's current deal is set to expire at the end of the 2020 season.
Vettel is amongst several drivers out of contract in 2020, as Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo are all likely to battle it out for the biggest drives in F1.
His love for the sport had been questioned at times last season, but the coming season is sure to be decisive in where he could end up at the end of 2020.