Charles Leclerc, Sauber, Monza, 2018

Leclerc to replace Raikkonen at Ferrari in 2019

2019 F1 season

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Sauber driver Charles Leclerc will take Kimi Raikkonen’s place at Ferrari for the 2019 F1 season, the team has confirmed.

“Scuderia Ferrari announces that in the next Formula One racing season, Charles Leclerc will drive for the Team alongside Sebastian Vettel,” said team principal Maurizio Arrivabene in a statement.

The 20-year-old has been handed the opportunity just 14 races into his first full season of Formula 1.

Leclerc, who is a Ferrari development driver and the reigning Formula Two champion, has impressed the team since he joined F1 with Sauber at the beginning of this year. He has consistently out-qualified his experienced team mate Marcus Ericsson and scored 13 of the team’s 19 points.

“Dreams do come true,” said Leclerc on social media. “I’ll be driving for Scuderia Ferrari for the 2019 Formula 1 world championship.”

Leclerc thanks the team, his family and two significant figures in his life who died in recent years.

“I will be eternally grateful to Scuderia Ferrari for the opportunity given. To Nicolas Todt for supporting me since 2011. To my family.

“To a person that is not part of this world anymore but to whom I owe everything of what is happening to me, Papa. To Jules [Bianchi], thank you for all the things you learnt me, we will never forget you, and to all the persons that supported me and believed in me.

“I will work harder than ever to not disappoint you. But first, there is a season to finish with an amazing team that gave me the opportunity to fight and show my potential. Let’s go Sauber.”

Leclerc’s Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur congratulated him on the move.

“It has been a great pleasure to support Charles Leclerc in his rookie year in Formula One,” he said in a statement. “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.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 126 comments on “Leclerc to replace Raikkonen at Ferrari in 2019”

      1. @mg1982 What is going on here? Red Bull brought a teenager to drive for them and now he’s being joined by another driver with only 1 season at TR. McLaren are bringing in a 18 year old rookie. Ferrari are giving one of their seats to a 20 year old kid.

        Has the world gone mad? :-)

        On the other hand, Hulkenberg is driving for Renault and his teammate next year will be Ricciardo.

        Alonso can’t find a decent drive in F1. Raikonnen, a WDC driver, is going to be driving for Sauber.

        Ocon with 2 great seasons at Force India may lose his seat.

        Stroll currently has 2 seats and could probably get a 3rd so he can pick the team he’ll be racing for every GP depending on performance.

        I almost feel that we need to go back and redo this whole silly season over again cause it’s exactly what the word means – silly…

        1. Yeah, don’t know exactly either…

          RAI at Sauber in 2020 too, not only 2019! Never thought RAI will enjoy F1 at 40 more than at 30.

          I think signing Leclerc for 2019 is the 1st crack in VET’s armour, that Ferrari don’t trust him anymore and they started to search for their next no.1. Of course, since VET still is their best asset and there’s also some doubt about Leclerc until proven different, RAI was the one to be sacrificed. But, if in 2019 Leclerc proves to be a match to VET (like HAM vs ALO), there’re big chances VET’s carreer will be over at the highest level of F1, not only Ferrari. I have big doubts RBR or Mercedes will want him, and what’s left then… !?!

          1. 1) Teams invest in their young driver programs to develop loyal talent in their own form. There’s no point having a YDP if the YD’s are never promoted

            2) Investing in a young talent means the talent has (in theory) a long time to develop into the best version of themselves.

            3) Young drivers are generally much cheaper and less demanding!

            Of course point 2 depends on the YD not cracking under the intense pressure of driving for a top team with relative inexperience, and point 3 is an assumption

        2. What is going on here?

          Breakfast!!!

      2. To much to soon….outpacing Ericsson good for a seat in F1 topteam?…wow

        Leclerc is good..but he isn’t brilliant

        IMHO he should have waited 1 other season driving for Haas….getting used to driving in the top 7/8
        He will be thrown into the lions den…driving for Ferrari with the pressure that comes with it

        Youngest polesitter then? Max driving with a Honda engine vs Leclerc in the fastest engine of them all?

    1. Is he allowed to beat Seb though.. it will be interesting to see how they manage his if Charles outperforms him.

        1. @nemo87 I can’t help but be reminded what Vettel said when asked about Leclerc potentially moving to the team:

          “He has no rush. He’s young, but if you’re young you’re always in a rush with everything.”

          https://www.racefans.net/2018/07/20/vettel-no-rush-for-leclerc-to-join-ferrari-f1-team/

          1. A vague sentence with no meaning?

            1. @johnmilk Not exactly, it suggests Vettel’s preference for Leclerc not to join Ferrari (or just yet). The situation echoes Verstappen to Red Bull a little since whatever reassurance Ferrari give Vettel about his status right now (senior and equal or first driver still, who knows? not us) Vettel knows that Ferrari consider Leclerc to be the team’s future. So basically Vettel’s status has declined, and fairly sharply, as of now.

          2. He was not wrong, so not sure what you’re trying to say with this comment.

            Wait, Keith, are you actually Lewis?

          3. That’s a little rich coming from Vettel.. Wasn’t he in a championship contending car in his 2nd season?

            1. He won a race, but I wouldn’t consider the STR championship material

            2. The Red bull in 2009 was the only other team on the grid that was a match for Brawn.

            3. So his 3rd season

            4. championship CONTENDING @johnmilk – in 2009 already, especially in the second half of the year he looked like he might snatch it away from Brawn afterall

            5. @todfod What’s ‘a little rich?’ If you read all his words, and I believe we actually saw him speak them on Sky, with a smile on his face, he’s actually complimenting CL. He says CL has everything and therefore will have a great career, and therefore doesn’t need to rush to Ferrari for he will get there. Obviously now he is there, but all Seb meant was that of course youngsters want it all now, no doubt like he did, and in the case of CL if it didn’t happen sooner it would happen later, but the compliment being it will happen. ie he’s no flash in the pan.

            6. @bascb I know I’m being pedantic, just saying his SECOND season was in a Toro Rosso in 2008, and he was in a contending car in his THIRD season. 2007 was his FIRST season, despite doing only roughly half of it

            7. @robbie

              Obviously now he is there, but all Seb meant was that of course youngsters want it all now, no doubt like he did, and in the case of CL if it didn’t happen sooner it would happen later, but the compliment being it will happen. ie he’s no flash in the pan.

              It was a compliment. No doubt. He acknowledged Leclerc’s talent and potential.

              It was also a sign of saying there’s no reason for him to join a championship winning team so soon in his career. Which is a little bit rich on his part… Because Vettel had the exact same career path. It’s not like any driver thought Vettel is making the jump too soon.

              I don’t even understand the point of your statement..especially considering the fact that you mention Vettel had the same step in his 2nd season.

            8. @todfod My point is that there is nothing he is saying that should be deemed ‘rich’ as I don’t believe he is saying there is ‘no reason’ in CL joining a Championship team so soon. You are saying that is what he is saying. I think he is saying there is no rush, as in, because he will be sought after whether he went to Ferrari next year or the one after, he’ll be fine because in SV’s words ‘he has everything’ as in, the goods to have a great career in F1. He is not saying there is ‘no reason’ at all…just no rush because he’ll be in F1 a long time. That’s why he is making the joke about youth and impatience. That’s why I pointed out he was smiling when he said that. A light hearted joke about the exuberance of youth.

          4. The point Keith is making is that Vettel was not keen on a young fast talented driver joining the team and challenging his status. He would have much rather Kimi – a known quantity – had remained.

            Vettel has had a poor season with a lot of mistakes. He is 31 years old. So Ferrari are not contracting Leclerc as a number 2 driver. They see him as the future, post-Vettel. And Vettel will be very aware of this.

            @nemo87 @keithcollantine @johnmilk @ho3n3r @todfod

            1. @shimks Apologies for repeating your point before reading your comment.

            2. If so, this could be the push Vettel needs to wake up from his mistakes. Or it will send him further down the spiral.

            3. I highly doubt Vettel is threatened by CL nor feels nor is actually diminished. CL may be their long term future, but for now they’ve got a 4 time WDC on the team too. For now CL has everything to prove yet in F1.

      1. Kimi was, why should this be any different? It’s not Seb’s fault he is normally faster, like 98% of the time.

        1. You’re right it’s not. I’m just thinking that if Charles hits the ground running and is matching or even out performing Seb.. how well is he going to take it!?

      2. I think Ferrari clearly expect Vettel to be the faster driver, at least in 2019. Unless Leclerc massively surprises everyone by constantly being able to beat Vettel next year, he will be the number two driver when it comes to things like race strategy. At the same time, it looks like the days of Barrichello are gone. Team orders still exist but they have become more subtle as the teams are more aware of the side effects. So if Ferrari ask Leclerc to move over for Vettel when both drivers are on similar strategies, especially during the first half of the season, I will be surprised.

    2. It’s great to see Ferrari being a little more bold of late. Radical car design, taking the lead on power unit development and finally having faith in a young talent.

      Given Ricciardo is the only real threat Vettel has had to face it’ll be interesting to see how these two measure up. Is expect Vettel to have the edge initially while Leclerc settles in to a top team role but I’ve high hopes for him delivering midway through the season.

      1. @philipgb

        Hopefully pays off in a way Ferrari is hoping for and not a Mclaren 2007 kinda way

    3. Wow – I did not expect that.

      Has Ferrari ever selected a young inexperienced driver before?

      1. No, not recently. The youngest in the modern era was Massa.

        Kudos to them for taking the risk, hopefully it pays out

        1. @johnmilk And he had already competed in F1 for three seasons by the time he joined Ferrari.

      2. Closest to being not so experienced will be Jean Alesi

    4. YESSS. Young blood finally and now I have another guy to support now. What could have been for Jules had he been…. He was originally destined to replace Kimi…

    5. @dbradock
      That was actually a Ferrari trademark with the old man Enzo. Ricardo Rodriguez, John Surtees, Niki Lauda, Gilles Villeneuve and many others were all inexperienced drivers when they have joined Ferrari.

      1. Except Niki? he was no slouch, and he has shown his knowledge and experience before joining the team, if the movie to be believed/accurate?

      2. @tifoso1989 John Surtees was already a multiple world champion at the top level of motorcycle racing when he started in F1, and did three full seasons at other teams before joining Ferrari.

    6. I am really looking forward to seeing Vettel and LeClerk battle it out! I’m not expecting LeClerk to be at Vettel’s level for a little while but it will be interesting!

      1. I don’t know, L’Klerk is a pretty good driver.

        1. You mean K’Klerk?

          1. Yeah, that’s the guy. Clark Kent.

    7. I think it’s also more of a sign to Vettel to up his game.

      Anyways I’m just glad they replaced Kimi with him. I love Kimi but Leclerc will definitely be more of an asset to Ferrari

    8. If he matches/outperforms Seb and is being told to let the No1 pass to often it could get a bit embarrassing.
      I don’t really see that happening to be honest but still.
      Nice to see young and talented drivers being given the leading cars to drive – kudos to Ferrari.

    9. Great news.

      Will beat Vettel, mark my words :)

      1. that means, vettel wont stay at Ferrari for long? Maybe honda will make wonders and RB wink at him back?

        it is possible he can beat Vet, but doing so consistently will require some adaptation… Ham adapts very quickly so we ll see if he can repeat a hamilton…

    10. There is a need to push Vettel to improve his performance even more and to see whether at all that is possible, LeClerc could be a useful candidate. He is fresh and hungry to perform in a top car.
      Ricciardo put pressure on Vettel during his last stint at Red Bull and Ricciardo himself came under pressure when Verstappen was promoted to the team. I think Ferrari wants to see how Vettel can perform against a youngstar who has undoubtedly shown progress at Sauber in first year itself. This is not typically seen in Ferrari, but it could be an eye-opener.

    11. ”Charles, Sebastian is faster than you”

      1. Or “Sebastian, Charles is faster than you”. How will that message be received?

        1. instead of that message you get Box, BoX now!

    12. Arrivabene was in favor of Kimi staying another year at Ferrari and Leclerc to arrive in 2020. Apparently Camilieri ,who is a personal friend of Kimi Raikkonen, wasn’t against Arrivabene’s decision.
      However, a late intervention by John Elkann turned things around. He himself communicated the decision to Kimi Raikkonen in the Italian GP weekend. That’s why Vettel wasn’t very happy after qualifying, he knew he had to fight another car apart from the Mercedeses.
      Not surprised to see Marchionne’s will prevailed at the end since he was the mentor of John Elkann and this is just a sign of recognition of what he has done so far for FCA and especially for Ferrari. I just hope that he’s resting in peace though, he managed to change the whole Ferrari traditional mentality in a short period of time. This is a good news for the sport since Ferrari isn’t anymore inaccessible to young talented drivers. On another note, Vettel needs to raise his game now and win WDCs with Ferrari otherwise a Verstappen/Leclerc line up will be more than an option in 2021.

      1. I will bet my house on it…Mercedes would never ever let Verstappen go to Ferrari. Like Marc Priestley said today “Ferrari and Mercedes would go into a bidding war to get Verstappen in their team when his contract runs out or the Honda engine isn’t delivering which makes Verstappen a free agent in 2020.

        The combination of Verstappen vs Leclerc would be Senna vs Prost all over again
        The combination of Verstappen vs Lewis would be Senna vs Prost all over again

    13. There goes Vettel’s 2018 championship hopes up in the smoke. Kimi would no longer act as a rear gunner for Seb from now onwards. Makes one wonder about the timing of the announcement.

      1. Seeing how they secured him a place in Sauber I am not sure this is the case. I won’t be surprised if Ferrari kept him in the payroll as well.

        1. @afonic That’s a good point which I seemingly overlooked.

          1. Possible, but kimi is no punching bag, he is not called ice-man for no reason! we shall see soon enough.

      2. @debapriya-deb
        Hes the worst reargunner in the field so it aint a loss.

    14. Great to see this. He has a fair chance now to become the youngest WDC ever.

    15. I feel like Ferrari know they’ve back the wrong horse. The reason why Mercedes haven’t given Ocon the seat is because Lewis is doing the job. Seb has just been given the vote of no confidence in my eyes, they could have moved Charles to Haas but they didn’t. I think Seb will be praying that it’s not another Danny Ric situation because his stock would go down.

      1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        11th September 2018, 10:56

        I honestly don’t think Ferrari has the same sway over Haas that they do over Sauber. The technical arrangement is the technical arrangement yes, but I don’t think it extends much beyond that to be honest.

      2. @wrighty88

        The reason why Mercedes haven’t given Ocon the seat is because Lewis is doing the job.

        The real reason why Mercedes haven’t given Ocon the seat is because that their junior drivers program is broken. Hamilton has been doing the job in the last couple of years because of two reasons his fantastic performances and the car he drives.
        While Mercedes lost the advantage they have over Ferrari this year, Lewis continued to deliver and capitalized on Ferrari’s mistakes. That way he’s still fighting for the WDC and he’s now the favorite for clinching it unless Vettel pulls something out of the bag.
        With the regard to WCC, Mercedes are still leading Ferrari by a small margin despite the fact that Ferrari lost many points due to silly mistakes, having a strong teammate alongside Lewis is a no brainer at least for me. I would have understood their decision of confirming wingman Bottas if they would have still have the margin they had over the competition in 2014-2016 but they don’t. If Ferrari could get their act together and stop making mistakes they can still win the WCC this year let alone next year.

      3. @wrighty88

        Vettel’s status within Ferrari and his future within the team will be decided on whether he wins the championship this year. He’s had a fair shot at the title last year… and nothing but the best car with the best reliability this year. If he can’t get the job done in 2018, I can’t see them retaining him post 2019.

        I feel like Ferrari know they’ve back the wrong horse.

        Completely agree. Ferrari are used to drivers fighting for the title even when the machinery isn’t quite there (like in the Schumacher or Alonso days). You know that Ferrari won’t place all it’s bets on a driver who cannot deliver the title in a car that has been the fastest and most reliable on the grid. Massa missed out on the title in 2008 in a car that should have won.. and 2 years later he was playing second fiddle to Alonso. Similarly, if Vettel drops the ball in 2018, I just don’t see him keeping that #1 driver status or even his race seat for long.

        1. Totally agree. This is Ferrari looking past Vettel. You making a mistake every 3rd race (8 – France, 11 – Germany, 14 – Italy) is not the way to drive a race-winning Ferrari.

          Vettel as a driver has a very narrow window. If he wins it this year, I can see him winning 3 more in a row (2011-13). Once he is calm, he can get pole every race and drive off in the distance. But he will get calm only if he wins this season.

          1. is not the way to drive a race-winning Ferrari.

            A championship winning Ferrari.

            But he will get calm only if he wins this season.

            He gets calm once his car has a massive advantage over its rivals. Then it becomes possible to win 2 or 3 races in a row and start a streak. I just don’t think Vettels capable of that when the competition is tight. He seems like a driver who can capitalise very well with an advantage, but nothing special in tight competition.

        2. Yep – I’ll jump on board with this.
          I can see it as hint to Vettel that he needs to get his focus back.
          Seb wanted Kimi but they have given him a hungry new Whiz Kid.

          If Seb gets back to winning form all well and good … if not then hopefully Charles can do the job.
          Either way Charles gets experience with an eye to the future.

        3. I essentially see this appointment of Leclerc like Ferrari saying “go and prove you’re worthy of being a 4 time WDC” because frankly I think Vettel is there for the taking. That car should be leading both championships but it’s not. I can’t see Vettel being there past 2019, I think on his day he is unbeatable but he has too many brain farts and when you’re up against a guy like Lewis, he will eat you alive and is showing that.

          1. Vettel is contracted through 2020, and I’m sure Ferrari will see that through with him.

      4. THE real reason Mercedes isn’t going to let Ocon drive for them…..is Verstappen.

        They wait for him to A: becoming a free agent in 2020 after the Honda partnership fails B: becomes a free agent in 2021

    16. Great news! Another properly talented guy fighting up the front end of the grid. Just imagining a few years down the line and if it’s Leclerc, Verstappen, Ocon, Norris, Russell etc. fighting it out for championships then I feel like the future of F1 is looking pretty good indeed!

    17. Great move! Yet again a sign of the new and bold Ferrari. Proud to be supporting this team

    18. Vettel’s days are numbered if he keeps making schoolboy errors that would be only be glaringly contrasted with Leclerc’s brilliance.

      1. I think Ferrari know deep down Seb isn’t quite as good as hes 4 tittles, not as good as Alonso and probably wont beat Lewis in a head to head fight.. I think his very good however I don’t think he is untouchable good. Time will tell.

        1. Exactly. Remember his year against RIC. I am not at all convinced VET is a top driver. Never have been. He had the best car for four years and a Kimi like team mate in Webber. Doesn’t prove a single thing but luck. He’s fast, for sure. When alone on a track. But when racing?

      2. The question now is, will this strenghten Vettel to show how good he can be by cutting out the mistakes and nabbing that title with the better car this year or will it only do even more to put him under stress and will we see him throwing away his title chances on the track just like he did last year @pt, @ming-mong.

        Interesting that they announce it right before the race where he more or less sealed the faith of last year’s campaign.

        1. A bit cruel, but I’m hoping, as an Alonso fan, that Vettel proves his deificiencies this year and next year so that the way is paved for Alonso to return to Ferrari in 2020.

      3. @pt I think I’ll wait to see how ‘brilliant’ CL will be once he is fighting with the big boys. Especially once he is under pressure, which I don’t think will be in 2019 because he is in a ‘no-lose’ situation for now. Do less than SV and it’s expected. Do better and it’s a bonus. In his year two at Ferrari though?…different story.

        Don’t get me wrong I hope he’s a great F1 icon in the making, but I think I will wait for him to actually run races rather than hand him the trophy now. Without question he will be in the best car he will have ever had so far, he will be immensely stoked, and he will as I say be in a fairly low pressure situation in year one. But as we have seen even 4 time champs can make mistakes when there’s big pressure, and their cars can also not always be there for them from one track to the next. Many many variables, so it is going to be exciting to see.

        1. Exciting for sure, particularly since I have one eye on the Alonso situation.

          1. @pt Meaning what? You think FA will be back?

            1. It’s obvious! He has unfinished business in Formula 1 and he himself has hinted on a return. Right now he talks about his future from a McLaren perspective, that he could return in 2020 if McLaren’s form improves. But if Alonso manages to get a competitive, potentially championship-winning drive in another team, he’ll grab it for sure.

      4. Take it easy! Lets see how Leclerc goes first. We dont want Vettel to get ontop of him pretty comfortably. Then Leclerc is under pressure after 2 years, when everyone thought he is the next best thing.

    19. I would have preferred it if Leclerc had been given one more year’s experience. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do though, hopefully he gives Vettel a good fight

    20. Hope he wins our first world championship in over a decade next year, cos it sure as hell isn’t going to happen this year at the rate we’re going.

    21. I totally did not see that one coming! /s

      I think he’s earned it. The question now is can he go toe-to-toe with Seb?

    22. This silly season has been very enjoyable and it certainly has helped me keep the passion for F1 alive. While there have been many good moments on the track as well, a lot of things about the sport still feel depressing. Yes, two drivers from different teams are fiercely fighting for the world championship but together they have won already seven of the last eight titles. The grid is still way too small, the gap between the top three teams and the rest is huge, midfield teams are still fighting for survival, etc. So while we are waiting for better times to come, it is exciting to watch so many drivers and teams accept new challenges.

      1. This silly season has been very enjoyable and it certainly has helped me keep the passion for F1 alive.

        Good point there @girts.

        With change at FI, Ricciardo jumping out at Red Bull and everything that set in suddenly we are getting a really nicely reshuffled grid for next year.

    23. The right decision from Ferrari. Not one of many this season.

    24. There will be fireworks at Ferrari next year! I bet anything Leclerc beats Seb like Ricardo did.

    25. Kimi had his chance to win at Monza but blew it. Ferrari need their other driver to be able to capitalise on days that Vettel doesn’t. Although in fairness, Hammy had the benefit of sacrificing Bottas by using him as a rear gunner (as Mercedes have done numerous times this year).

      1. Kimi had his chance to win at Monza but blew it.

        I’d say Ferrari blew it (forcing a too-early pitstop), not Kimi.

        1. Ferrari were worried about the undercut and rightfully so given the speed Hammy had once he was in clear air.

          It’s not really relevant any way. He couldn’t break free of Hammy to build a big enough gap early on. Cooked his tyres.

          Mercedes had the luxury of keeping Hammy out because Raikkonen wasn’t quick enough after the pit stop.

          You have to stop blaming Ferrari and start to admit that Kimi’s performances aren’t up to scratch.

          Ferrari were desperate for Kimi to win at Monza but he blew it.

    26. Great news and congrats to Charles! As soon as I knew Dan wasnt getting the drive I did hope then did do something different. I love Kimi but like many didnt think he should have had that seat in the past few years, but this year I think he has been great- imagine if he was allowed to race.

      Charles does look impressive to say the least, Ferrari dont do this at all but maybe felt like they needed to go with the current trend in F1 to promote the young guys or you might miss out in the future. If they did take Dan it may may not gone well with Seb, but also they have 2 guys of similar age leaving F1 within a few years of each other. To take a young gun when you still have Seb makes sense.

      Hope he gets a heap of success early!!

    27. Messae to Toto: This is what you do with junior drivers. Red Bull promoted Gasly, Ferrari promoted Leclerc.
      Mercedes developed cold feet with Pascal, doing the same with Esteban. Why renew Bottas when Esteban was there?

      1. Exactly!
        Ocon showed that he is a great young driver and Mercedes should have given him the seat. In 2-3 years time Hamilton will quit the sport and they won`t have a leading driver. Huge mistake!

        1. @ivostivanov nah they will do what Ferrari has done poach top talent from another team when they need it. As long as they are on top or close to it, someone will always be wanting to drive for them.

          1. I agree, but ain`t Ocon a top talent waiting for his chance ?!

            1. @ivostivanov totally, a shame he isn’t promoted.

    28. I think this says more about Vettel than Raikkonen…

    29. I assume this is great news for Mercedes.

      With Kimi being able to run his own races until the end of the season, it’s unlikely that Seb will win the WDC and also unlikely that Ferrari will win the WCC as we can expect at least 1 collision between Seb and Kimi.

      Moving onto next year, Ferrari will have a rookie of unknown potential. He’s done well at Sauber but that doesn’t automatically guarantee that he’ll do well at Ferrari. He may be quick, he may struggle, no one knows. If he’s quick, it will surely lead to a scrap between him and Seb. There’s no way Seb would allow Charles to win a WDC at Ferrari. I would say Mercedes’ odds of winning the WDC and WCC next season have soared through the roof.

      1. @freelittlebirds While I agree with you that CL has everything to prove yet in F1, I think the notion of KR running his own races now and even he and Seb crashing is ridiculous. Kimi has way more class than to stop helping Seb wherever he can if the situation arises, and Kimi will still be in the Ferrari family at Sauber.

        1. @robbie Perhaps not, let’s watch and see what happens. I would expect Kimi would like to leave Ferrari on a high note and get that victory that’s eluded him for so many seasons. Seb wants to win the WDC and can get very jumpy around other cars when points are at stake. The Ferrari car is currently the best it’s been in a while so it’s possible that the 2 of them may end up fighting for P1 at a Gran Prix.

          We all saw Seb and Webber in Malaysia with Multi21 – he will do everything in his power to deny the other side of the Ferrari garage a victory and Seb was very lucky that both cars finished that race, Mark could have easily taken Seb out by defending like Max without anyone faulting him.

      2. Don’t forget Ferrari have the ability to have his car still jacked up on the grid at the start of the formation lap. Or coming or work only 3 tyres at his next stop. Or breaking his gearbox to check for an oil leak that leaves no deposit on the floor.

    30. This might sound like backwards logic, but I wonder whether Vettel’s erratic season was a catalyst for the decision to promote Leclerc in place of Raikkonen. If Ferrari have at least in part lost faith in Vettel’s abilities then it makes sense to bring in a new talent who could be their future star, but getting rid of Vettel would be too big a gamble so it makes sense to keep him as their ‘banker’ and have Leclerc as their wild card. If Leclerc isn’t quite ready to win titles, or isn’t good enough currently for whatever reason, they still have Vettel to bring in the results, but if Leclerc is already up there, then they have an improved chance of bringing home the titles. Makes sense to me. Either way, looking forward to some fireworks at Ferrari next year if Leclerc can offer up a good challenge to Seb.

    31. The last time Vettel had a young team mate, 2014 he was beaten convincingly by Danny Ricc, who won 3 races to Vettels nil, I can see Vettel been exposed again next season as Leclerc is just as good a rookie as Danny Ricc. Will be interesting to see just how good Vettel is under pressure.

      1. Will be interesting to see just how good Vettel is under pressure.

        Not very, is probably the answer we already know. I think the real question is pace, who ends up being faster in qualifying. Verstappen was erratic earlier this season, and had his Bottas mistake the last race, but he still effectively pushed Ricciardo out of the team because of this speed (even if MV didn’t want to see him leave, nor Red Bull). Vettel’s strength is his qualifying speed and leading from the front. If Leclerc beats him regularly in qualifying, something Raikkonen never did, then Vettel will have a real problem. But if Vettel qualifies ahead, given his good starts and race pace at the front, I expect he’ll remain de facto number 1 driver and Leclerc will just slot into the team, waiting for Vettel to retire in a a few years.

        1. In a sense, this could be a good way for Vettel to redeem himself though @david-br. If he manages not to let the pressure get to him and cuts out the mistakes this year he could take the title. Then he might not be that bothered anymore with feeling he needs to prove himself.

          If not, we can look forward to another seat opening up at Ferrari prematurely.

          1. @bascb I agree actually, I think there’s a good chance Vettel will complete this season well and the title is more likely to come down to race incidents caused by other drivers, weather, mechanical issues and strategy decisions. So you think he might retire if he wins this year? I’d have thought he’d do another season at least given Ferrari are in a good place right now. Retiring, I think, would mean Vettel opting out of really proving himself next season in a title-winning car with real intra-team competition (maybe).

            1. I think Sebastian would like to add another title (maybe even try to gun for equalling Schumacher?) at Ferrari @david-br. But he won’t be feeling the stress of having to do it anymore – a bit like I think Hamilton is now driving better than before because he feels relaxed he can do it most of the time.

              Either he will cut out the mistakes and go for the record or he will have to admit Charles can beat him and then we might see Max in that Ferrari in 2020 (or maybe Daniel, or some new hotshot).

      2. @jamesluke2488 There is a massive difference between 2014 and now. The only way 2019 would at all be comparable is if SV has just come off of winning 4 WDCs straight only to have his enviously Championship car that fit him like a glove, ripped out of his hands and replaced by a Lada for all intents and purposes, at least as how I imagine it must have felt for SV.

        SV loses his golden ride and along comes a newbie who is about to drive the best car he’s ever been in, in a no-pressure situation, in spite of how bad the car feels for SV comparatively. In 2014 SV was downright dejected at the state of things having come off 4 straight years of the highest highs.

        If F1 is hard, as the pinnacle of racing should be, then at a minimum CL should be starting off at Ferrari on his hind foot, in learning mode, and Seb will have the continuity of a great car under him whether he wins the WDC this year or not. There is nothing comparable in 2019 at Ferrari to 2014 at Red Bull other than Seb’s teammate will again be in a low-pressure situation. Lag behind SV and it’s no surprise…perform well and it’s gravy. Year two at Ferrari will be a much higher pressure year for CL.

    32. Think you’ve seen all of & the best of SeeBashem’s petulant chitfits before?
      WAIT!! When & only a very, very, short when, in 2019.
      Charles Leclerc trounces SV! Likely only 2nd or 3rd race of next season.
      You will be treated to the most magnificent display of the Biggest & Furthest dummy spitting out ever!
      Then! The toys out of his pram will make a NASA rocket launch look like a back garden 2/6d firework!

      1. Wow, CL has run 14 races so far and yet next year he’s going to trounce a 4 time WDC. F1 must be way too easy then.

        1. And the beat goes on …… But wait ….. we still have 7 races to go this season.
          Will there be any surprises, of course there will. It is “if” …. backwards.

    33. Man alive, really great news! Totally deserved. I expect Charles to be WDC soon. Two things:

      1- What happened with all that veto power Vettel supposedly had? He could impede Ricciardo’s arrival, but couldn’t stop Leclerc? Hm…

      2- Seb’s gonna have a proper run for his money. Talk about pressure now.

      1. 1. The veto power is a myth brought on by armchair posters.
        2. It remains to be seen if CL can just hop in that car and give a 4 time WDC a run for his money.

        What I do agree with is that there will be more pressure on SV than on CL in CL’s first year. After that it will be different.

        1. @robbie
          1. Totally agree.

          2. True, it remains to be seen, but my expectations are really high. It will be similiar to 2014: one has nothing to lose with the best car of his life at hands, while the other will certainly be under a hangover (wether champ or not) with everything to lose. And, even that the car won’t be the worst of Seb’s career, surely the (now exponentially) growing pressure will be the biggest. Those things will demand way more than just pure pace.

          If Seb overcomes that, I agree it tends to be cool.

          1. @neifer Fair comment. I think Seb will do just fine next year, pressure wise, but I think the bulk of the pressure he experiences will come from LH again.

    34. The last time Ferrari did something close to this was when they signed Jean Alesi. Although, there was nothing like the Ferrari academy.

    35. Happy for LeClerc and wish him well.

      Not a surprise to Kimi and I’m glad to see him still in the game for 2 more years at Sauber.

      It would appear that Ferrari want to explore the possibility of LeClerc being their future sooner rather than later. I truly hope this works out for him.

      Can’t help but wonder if this partly prompted by Vettel’s erratic performances over the past few seasons. At times he has seemed like the WDC in waiting. Other times he uses extremely poor judgement throwing points away and in the process becoming the WDC runner up. This must be frustrating when Ferrari surely expected to have at least one title with Vettel by now, or more. He has certainly not even come close to the level of his greatest idol, former frequent Ferrari champion Michael Schumacher.

      On another note it was fitting that Charles LeClerc paid tribute to his father and to Jules Bianchi. He truly seems to be a genuinely nice young man and an excellent racer. The kind of driver fans love to root for.

      1. @bullmello Charles is a truly nice guy, that much has been clear even since before he started performing in F1.

    36. Charles could be the youngest WDC in the next 1-2 years beating his own teammate record. Max odds to beat that record almost certainly gone now.

    37. Fantastic news for Mercedes and Red Bull as he has not showen any eye catching drives in the Sauber. Mercedes should be champions for a long time to come.

    38. well make or break, seems to soon, but then toro rosso was shopping and mercedes are looking real bad now

      you would think at least a podium in f1 will be required, but then those that have are underrated, le clerc is a hulkenberg imho

    39. Enzo Ferrari must be rolling in his grave right now. He hated rookie drivers on his team. Excellent news for Mercedes.

    40. Although it has been rumoured for a while that Leclerc would be replacing Raikkonen at Ferrari for 2019 it is still a bit of a surprise to me.

      When the talk first started earlier this year I was of the opinion that an extra year of experience at a team like Sauber would be better in the long term for Leclerc than to be driving for Ferrari in only his second year in F1, and I still think that now.

      Also from Ferrari’s side, is it the best option for them?

      If we assume Ferrari have a long term agreement with Leclerc so that they did not have to worry about him joining one of their rivals if they did not act now, would it have been better to leave it a year giving Leclerc more time to develop.

      No matter how good you think Leclerc will be in the long term will he be a better option for Ferrari in 2019 than Raikkonen would be?

      For that question I suppose we need to first ask what Ferrari expect from the driver who will be partnering Vettel in 2019.

      Do they want a number two driver who will defer to the lead driver and sacrifice his own races, weekends and season as a whole if it benefits the number one driver, the sort of driver set up Ferrari have had many times, and what many expect to be the case at the team.

      Did they want the best driver they could get, but in the knowledge that whoever they had in the second car would not be a match for their lead driver so by default would end up being a number two driver. This is the approach I think some other teams try to do, it is hard to find two top tier drivers, so even if the team treats both drivers equally one will naturally outperform the other and so that will be the order in the team when crucial decisions need to be made that could make the difference between winning and losing.

      Or do Ferrari want two top drivers who will push each other throughout the season, in that scenario the team should score more points in the constructors championship but the drivers could end up sharing the wins and points and so miss out in the drivers championship, and it could even lead to a falling out and a toxic environment in the team.

      Considering that Raikkonen seems to be in better form this season at Ferrari than in recent years, I think that in all of those scenarios that Raikkonen would be the better option over Leclerc to partner Vettel at Ferrari for 2019, and then make the change in 2020 if things progress as expected.

      Leclerc is still young and relatively inexperienced and unless you think Raikkonen won’t be able to maintain his current level next year, than Raikkonen is still the safer bet for Ferrari in 2019.

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