Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc is reportedly 'shocked and disappointed' over having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate for the upcoming season, according to reports from Italy.
Hamilton surprised the Formula 1 community last week by revealing his departure from Mercedes after an 11-year tenure, announcing his move to Ferrari in 2025. The seven-time champion has secured a multi-year deal and is set to team up with Leclerc in the foreseeable future, displacing Carlos Sainz.
This announcement followed closely on the heels of Leclerc's own commitment to Ferrari with a new long-term contract, seemingly solidifying his position as the team's 'Golden Boy' and leader. However, the addition of Hamilton is expected to disrupt the existing balance, and if Ferrari can produce a championship-worthy car, tensions between the drivers are anticipated.
Leclerc has not yet made a public statement on the matter, but initial reports indicate that the Monegasque driver was aware of discussions between Ferrari and Hamilton. He is now looking forward to the opportunity to measure his skills against the most successful driver in the history of Formula 1.
However, according to Corriere dello Sport, the situation is quite the opposite. The 26-year-old and his entourage were reportedly taken by surprise, completely unaware of the impending move.
Additionally, it is suggested that they were 'shocked and disappointed by Ferrari's decision,' though they plan to remain tight-lipped about the matter.
Leclerc is resolute in his ambition to become Ferrari's first champion since Kimi Raikkonen in 2007, which led to the new contract. However, the duration of the deal has not been specified, and there are speculations that it might include a break clause allowing him to depart if his championship prospects do not improve.
Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton's former teammate at Mercedes, recently expressed his 'surprise' at the move and is eager to see how the situation unfolds.
Speaking at the launch of the Stake F1 team’s 2024 car, the 34-year-old said: "I never actually thought that could happen, but I think it’s good for him. I mean, it’s a big opportunity, it’s a big move, and obviously he’s made the decision himself.
"It’s going to be a different experience for him, but I think with all his experience in Formula One, he’s always been great with dealing with people and getting the most out of a team," he added.
"I’m positive he’s going to do a great job there and he shouldn’t have any issues getting used to the car either. I think it’s a great challenge. I’m sure it’s a big motivation for him to bring Ferrari to the top," he maintained.
As for who will replace Hamilton at Mercedes, Bottas is considered an outside contender having won 10 races with them from 2017 to 2021, and was even recently pictured at the team’s base in Brackley.