He had been talking about it for a while, and the confirmation finally arrived. Charles Leclerc signed an extension to his contract with Ferrari and will remain at the helm of the "Rossa" in Formula 1 until 2024. Ferrari confirmed it with a tweet.
Five years is a devil of a reconfirmation for a 23 year old, and even if he's a sure promise, it does take some courage - on both sides - to sign such a long agreement.
Why talk about it? Certainly, not to give you the news of this early renewal, since his contract would have expired in 2021, but only to make some observations relating to the world of car racing.
Leclerc arrived in Ferrari in 2019 and, in his first year, he already has two victories, seven pole positions, and 10 podiums under his belt.
An interesting outcome and, in a sense, comparable to that of Fabio Quartararo with his two second places, 7 podiums, and 6 pole positions this year. Of course, he hasn't yet won a Grand Prix, that's true, but with the Petronas satellite team's Yamaha, he finished 5th overall in the World Championship, just 19 points behind Maverick Vinales, the first official rider on the team from Iwata. And all this with five zeros in the standings, one more than Maverick.
Is Fabio doing the right thing by signing an extension to his current contract, binding him to Petronas, if Yamaha would then end up wanting him on their official team?
The answer, as far as we are concerned, is no. Unless his only interest was to secure a multi-million-dollar contract. In fact, the real investment for a rider are the results and the possibility of having a competitive vehicle.
Now, if Ferrari is happy to have secured a promising young talent, we should note that, in recent years, it hasn't exactly been the best car in the championship. The same could be said for Yamaha. Its last title dates back to 2015.
Then there's another consideration to make: among early signatures and very long-term contracts, the market risks becoming paralyzed. And what could happen to a young rider if, after such a long period of time - let's say without great results, if not for a few victories - decides to get back in the game?
We have an example of the wrong choices made right before our eyes: Johann Zarco. From Yamaha satellite to official KTM, to find himself again in a second level team, having to climb back ti the top.
The agreement signed by Charles Leclerc offers us another topic for a final observation: when Phillip Morris wants a driver, they almost always manages to succeed. And if the only choice for Ferrari was the driver from Monaco, with Lewis Hamilton in the same situation as Marc Marquez with Honda, we don't think the situation can be replicated in the MotoGP, where an entire generation of young riders is pressing to get on the official teams. And, coincidentally, the team with the (economic) cards in hand, and the same team color as the Ferrari, is the Ducati.
In no time at all, we'll be forced to do without Valentino Rossi, Cal Crutchlow and, perhaps, Andrea Dovizioso if he doesn't renew with Ducati at the end of 2020.
As is written in Ecclesiastes: "A generation goes, and a generation comes ..."
And we could also add: bringing many opportunities along with it. Including that of a top team which, very shortly, will be called to entirely reshuffle its cards.