The Monegasque driver announced a new long-term deal with the Scuderia just a week before the bombshell news earlier this month that Hamilton would be joining him next year.

The timing of the Hamilton move prompted some to suggest that Leclerc may have been caught blindsided by the fact that he would now find himself going up against the seven-time world champion.

But speaking for the first time about the situation, Leclerc said Ferrari had kept him in the loop about his plans – and that he saw no downside to the development.

Obviously these kind of deals are not finalised overnight,” he said about the timing of both his and Hamilton’s contract deals.

“So, it takes time, of course. And I was aware of those discussions before signing my deal. So, it didn't come out as a surprise after signing.”

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

“But, with Carlos [Sainz], it has been great and we've got one more year together to try and do the best job possible.”

Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton at Mexico City GP 2023

While the arrival of Hamilton at Ferrari is a big deal for the team, Leclerc said the possibility of the Mercedes driver coming on board did not have any influence in how his contract negotiations played out.

“No, it hasn't changed anything in my discussions because, again, I focus on myself and what's good for me,” he said.

“There was no change of any requirements or whatsoever for me. That wasn't part of my discussions.

“I think it was good that the team was transparent anyway just for me to not learn it after that. But it didn't change anything for me.”

Leclerc explained that he had been in touch with Hamilton once it became clear the Briton was joining Ferrari, and he reckoned his arrival would offer plenty of positives.

“Yes, we've had discussions with Lewis, especially when everything was announced and official,” he said. “We texted each other, of course.

“Lewis is a great champion with a lot of experience and so much success. So, it is always interesting to have a new team-mate as you learn different ways of working, of driving, and even more so when my new team-mate is a seven-time world champion.”