Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has revealed that Charles Leclerc has signed a long-term deal that runs until at least 2022. The Monegasque driver confirmed on Tuesday that he would be making the switch to Ferrari next season, replacing Kimi Raikkonen.
Leclerc joined the Scuderia outfit as a junior driver in 2015, and Arrivabene confirmed that there were agreements in his junior contract that an eventual move to Ferrari would materialize.
"I signed with Charles in November 2015 the first contract in the Ferrari Driver Academy," he said. "In that contract we already designed and committed and signed and wrote his future in F1, as we have done with [Antonio] Giovinazzi, the same thing.
"And that means we change a bit also the way that we organise the Ferrari Driver Academy but also how we are going to develop the talent for the future. So Charles Leclerc is not a big surprise, he's one of the talented drivers that we have in F1.
"Thank God, it's a guy that he grew up with us and I hope that he is going to continue his career with us, at least until 2022 for sure. When you make some choices like this, that are related to the driver, you don't have to look only at the short-term commitment, but also at the long-term commitment."
Despite being ousted at Ferrari, Raikkonen will not leave Formula 1 until at least following the 2020 season. The Finn signed a two-year deal with Sauber, the team he began his F1 career with back in 2001. But Arrivabene says that Raikkonen understood the reasoning behind Ferrari's decision.
"I have to say that the relationship with Kimi is so good that he understands. It's not only a question of telling him this is the decision," he said. "If you do my job properly, it's to take him through the process, and I took him through the process of the decision and he didn't even try to say, 'Yeah, I would like you to change your mind,' or something.
"He's a professional driver. Then I heard many other things like 'Ah, you know, telling him in Monza was the wrong time.' Think about if I had told him in Belgium and Sebastian was winning the race? Kimi was in the same position and then it was wrong to tell him in Belgium.
"So the right time is not written on the paper, but what is written on the paper is that when we sign contracts with a driver, we sign a contract with professional drivers. I always talk with my two drivers as professional drivers and I'm expecting from him the maximum of professional effort and to use all their professional skills and Kimi is one of them."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing