Charles Leclerc has signed a new contract with Ferrari through to the end of the 2024 Formula One season.
Leclerc joined the Scuderia at the start of last season, after a year with Sauber, on a deal believed to be to the end of the 2021 season.
‘ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN’: Lewis Hamilton set for bombshell team switch
Following a successful debut campaign with Ferrari, in which he finished fourth in the drivers' standings and above teammate Sebastian Vettel, Leclerc has been rewarded with a new deal.
“This past season, driving for the most illustrious team in Formula One, has been a dream year for me,” Leclerc said.
"I cannot wait to enjoy an even deeper relationship with the team after what has been an intense and exciting 2019.
“I'm keen to see what the future holds and I can't wait to get going again next season."
The lengthy deal has stunned Formula 1 pundits, with broadcaster and journalist Will Buxton saying the “absolutely huge” deal is “almost unheard of”.
Holy moly that’s absolutely huge. A five year contract is almost unheard of. Wow. https://t.co/hsyJYj3rG2— Will Buxton (@wbuxtonofficial) December 23, 2019
Easy decision for Ferrari, great news for F1, time frame reassuring. Would be interesting to know how much horsepower, if any, Charles and his management had in terms of future team mates and racing priorities in such a long deal. Well done Charles. Young guns have energised F1 https://t.co/5aBDZjAlHf— Martin Brundle (@MBrundleF1) December 23, 2019
Monster new deal for Charles Leclerc keeps him at Ferrari until at least 2024. Big show of intent from Maranello and big show of faith in the team from Leclerc. If there’s no title by then something quite spectacular needs to go wrong...#F1— Scott Mitchell (@SMitchellF1) December 23, 2019
LeClerc emerges as Ferrari’s No.1
Leclerc went into 2019 as the No.2 to Vettel, a four-time world champion, but quickly established himself by winning two races - including on Ferrari's home soil in Italy - and seven pole positions to the one victory and two poles for Vettel.
Leclerc finished 24 points ahead of Vettel in the drivers' standings.
"With each passing race this year, our wish to extend our contract with Charles became ever more self-evident and the decision means he will now be with us for the next five seasons," Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said.
Next season, it will be 13 years since Ferrari's last drivers' champion, and 12 years since they last won the constructors' championship.