Ferrari announced that Charles Leclerc will join the team alongside Sebastian Vettel from the 2019 Formula 1 season.
After the announcement of Kimi Raikkonen leaving the team at the end of the 2018 F1 season to join Sauber from 2019, Ferrari confirmed its young driver Leclerc’s promotion in their team alongside Vettel from the new season onward.
A usual short statement from world champions Ferrari read: “Scuderia Ferrari announces that in the next Formula One racing season, Charles Leclerc will drive for the Team alongside Sebastian Vettel.”
It is a bold call from the Italian manufacturer to promote Leclerc in their team after just one year for the young driver in F1 in a smaller team. The Monegasque has impressed though with his pace after winning both GP3 and GP2 titles as a rookie.
With Sauber as well, Leclerc started slowly but caught up well to beat his more experienced teammate Marcus Ericsson as he sits 15th in the standings with 13 points after 14 races in the 2018 season.
It will be a big ask for Leclerc in Ferrari as the pressure to deliver will be enormous especially in the year where Ferrari looks to have a much better car to match with their rivals Mercedes in the title fight.
The move had been speculated for months but with the untimely death of Sergio Marchionne, it seemed to have put on the brakes on the promotion. However, it gained momentum again during the Italian GP weekend.
It was believed that Raikkonen will leave F1 if he no longer races for Ferrari but the Finn has since chosen to rejoin the Sauber in what could be a managerial decision as speculations from Finland says that Raikkonen is to become part owner of the team.
Leclerc’s promotion also comes at a time when Mercedes has decided to stick with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas as its young drivers Esteban Ocon, George Russell and Pascal Wehrlein are still looking for a F1 seat.
Sauber’s Frederic Vassuer said: “It has been a great pleasure to support Charles Leclerc in his rookie year in F1. Since his arrival, he has given the team great motivation. We have constantly improved and we will work hard until the end of this season to achieve the best possible results together.
“We are aware of Charles’ talent and are confident that he will have a bright future. We will keep on following him closely and we wish him the best on his path.”
About the Author
Darshan Chokhani is a FIA Accredited journalist covering both Indian and International championships, including Formula 1, MotoGP, Formula E, World Endurance Championship and more. Although specialising in motor racing, but follows Cricket, Tennis, WWE and events involving Indian athletes.