Leclerc's Ferrari deal breaks ground even Schumacher did not
Ferrari laid their cards on the table this week, signing Charles Leclerc up to a deal tat confirms him as the Scuderia's leading light for the next half-decade.
The Monegasque was already on the longest-term deal on the grid, signed to Ferrari until 2022, but his new agreement will keep him at Maranello until 2025.
Such five-year contracts are the rarest of currency in a sport that is notorious for short-termism from season to season.
And the scale of Ferrari's investment is borne out when considering that the great Michael Schumacher was never signed to a deal with the Scuderia for more than three years.
Corriere dello Sport reports that Leclerc's salary has tripled to €9million, closing the gap to Sebastian Vettel, although the four-time world champion remains on a deal worth much more per year.
Leclerc earned his new contract with a spectacular debut season in Scuderia scarlet.
The Monegasque took seven pole positions across the campaign, more than any other driver and added two race wins in Belgium and Italy, breaking Ferrari's nine-year drought at Monza in the process.
Leclerc finished ahead of Vettel in the drivers' championship, having wiped out the pre-season "priority" bestowed upon the German by team principal Mattia Binotto, becoming just the second team-mate to defeat Vettel across a full season.
The 22-year-old's extension also arrives amid suggestions that Lewis Hamilton could be his team-mate in 2021, with Mercedes' six-time world champion having met Ferrari president John Elkann in 2019.
Binotto has said that Ferrari want an "experienced" driver alongside Leclerc when F1 falls under new regulations in 2021. Both Vettel and Hamilton fit the bill, but it remains to be seen if the German can convince Ferrari that he remains at the peak of his powers.
Vettel may not have long to prove his worth, with Binotto saying that a decision will start to be made around next year's Spanish GP.
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