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Leclerc offers reaction to Hamilton being signed by Ferrari as his new team mate

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Charles Leclerc has spoken publicly for the first time about the news that Lewis Hamilton will become his team mate at Ferrari from the 2025 season, describing the seven-time world champion’s move as “a good thing” for the team.

Hamilton shocked the F1 world a couple of weeks ago when it was announced that he is to swap Mercedes – a team he has represented since 2013 – for the Scuderia at the end of the year, with Leclerc’s team mate, Carlos Sainz, having to make way.

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Speaking after the launch of Ferrari’s new F1 challenger, the SF-24, Leclerc offered his initial verdict on Hamilton’s impending arrival and admitted he was kept up to date about developments as they happened.

“Well, obviously these kind of deals are not finalised overnight, so it takes of course time,” said Leclerc. “I was aware of those discussions before signing my [new] deal. It didn’t come out as a surprise after signing.

Leclerc: 'Lewis is such an incredible driver'

“For the rest, I don’t want to comment on it much, mostly out of respect for Carlos. We’ve had great years together and we have one more together to do. We will do absolutely everything to finish on the highest note possible.

“Obviously Lewis is an incredible driver, the most successful in history, with a lot of experience as well, which he will bring to the team and obviously myself, which is a good thing.”

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Pushed on whether he’s had any contact with Hamilton, and what it means to him to go up against such a formidable driver, Leclerc added: “Yes, we’ve had discussions with Lewis, especially when everything was announced and official. We texted each other of course.

“As I said, Lewis is a great champion with a lot of experience and so much success. It’s always interesting to have a new team mate as you learn different ways of working and of driving. Even more so when my new team mate is a seven-time world champion.”

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Leclerc was speaking as Ferrari presented their new F1 car, the SF-24

Leclerc also made clear that being told in advance about Hamilton’s negotiations and decision to join Ferrari did not prompt him to make any special requests for his own multi-year contract renewal.

“No, it hasn’t changed anything in my discussions,” he said. “Again, I focus on myself and what’s good for me. There was no change of any requirements whatsoever.

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“For me, it wasn’t part of my discussions. I think it was good that the team was transparent anyway, just for me to not learn [about Hamilton’s deal] after that, but it didn’t change anything for me.”

Those line-up questions aside, Leclerc and Ferrari will now focus on their preparations for the 2024 campaign, with the SF-24 getting its first run out at Fiorano on Tuesday before the F1 paddock flies out to Bahrain to get stuck into pre-season testing from February 21-23.

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