Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Vettel expects “nice kid” Leclerc will put him under pressure

2019 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel says he is taking the threat from his new team mate Charles Leclerc seriously.

While Ferrari has indicated it is prepared to favour the more experienced Vettel in the championship fight from the outset, he views his new team mate as “a full rival.”

“He’s in the seat for a reason,” Vettel told RaceFans and other media at the Circuit de Catalunya. “So I’ve got to take it very serious.

“I think you always have a close rivalry with your team mate. But priority number one is for sure trying to bring the team forward.

“Obviously I’ve been around for a bit longer compared to him, so it’s different. Different things may be here that he will have on his plate in the beginning.

“But he’s a nice kid and you know I hope that in a positive way you leave him alone and let him do his job. And I’m very certain he will be quick enough and put me under pressure. So we’ll see how it goes.”

While Vettel admitted he doesn’t know Leclerc well as a team mate yet, he’s confident the pair will have an amicable relationship.

“I’m not over-complicating these things, I’m taking it quite straightforward. I’m not the one starting any problems, I don’t expect that Charles is starting any problems so I’m actually looking forward to it.

“I think it’s very exciting for him the position to be in to drive the car of his dreams and so on so I can understand that even though I’ve been around longer but I feel still a little bit the same.”

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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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20 comments on “Vettel expects “nice kid” Leclerc will put him under pressure”

  1. I expect Charles would start beat Seb by Europe rounds. I looking forward on how Seb handle the pressure after that.

    1. This point of view that Leclerc is such a talent as to beat a 4 time world champion (very close to being 7 times really) is interesting. Vettel has never been outside top 2 in the standings ever since his first full season in F1.
      And you’re basing Leclercs talent on what? That he beat Ericsson? Surely that’s not very impressive after all.
      Sure he did well in all lower series, but who in F1 didn’t? Well, Ericsson.

      1. fwiw if one looks at 2014 it wouldn’t be unprecedented

      2. IFAIK, Charles always beat his teammates and he has never been outside top 2 on every competition bar last year.

        1. very close to being 7?

          explain the missing 3?

  2. Save your sweats. New kid won’t be allowed to do what Raikkonnen did. He is gonna be a wingman just like Bottas this year. He will be told that his time will come later.

    I think IF Ferrari is competitive this year as well they are going to get the championship.

    1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      20th February 2019, 10:30

      Raikkonen was used as wingman whenever there was any chance of a championship challenge. Just look at Monaco 2017 and certainly Hungary 2017. I expect Ferrari to give Leclerc MORE liberty. Vettel has cracked under pressure twice in two years, and is “already” 31. Leclerc is Ferrari’s future star.

  3. I think the biggest deciding factor will be how well Leclerc gets on top of qualifying, because that was his biggest weakness last season. Hamilton was sublime last season and I have no trouble saying he’s the best qualifier on the grid this year, but Vettel is a firm second and more often than not strings together great laps on Saturday. My guess is that Seb out qualifies Charles until at least Canada this year. As for the races, a lot of other variables come into play and he could steal a win or two off Seb if his form flags at any of those first races. It’s definitely going to be exciting.

    1. I think the biggest deciding factor will be how well Leclerc gets on top of qualifying, because that was his biggest weakness last season.

      He beat Ericsson 17:4 in last season’s qualifyings (only Alonso, who crushed Vandoorne, was better), with an average advantage of 0.6 seconds …
      *scratches head*

      1. Leclerc did not put together his fastest sectors most of the time. (Source: yesterdays coverage on F1TV) Still that was enough to beat Ericsson. It will probably not be enough to beat Vettel in Q3 if he doesn’t raise his game.

        1. Yup, that’s what prompted my comment and reflects my thinking about it. They mentioned that despite the sound thumping he gave Ericsson, he was the least effective putting together his fastest sectors of all the drivers, which was surprising to me. He is right at he beginning of his career. I suspect that he’ll get on top of this pretty quickly, but for the moment Seb has a definite advantage on him in this specific respect. Seb has been one of the best at putting together fastest sectors for quite some time.

          1. Good point, same applies to Hamilton in terms of putting together a final lap in Q3. That’s the level Leclerc or any other pretender needs to reach.

          2. @lunaslide
            That was a point I didn’t expect. A very insightful one too!

          3. Oh, no… That’s not good. I was hoping for new WDC this year…

  4. I hope Leclerc is real fast. I hope he is a racer and not just a wingman. We need action. Vettel is getting too old for F1, then you lose real fighting spirit, and everytime he does fight there is an incident. It is time for the Leclerc’s and Verstappen’s who have only one goal, to win. No matter what.

    1. Vettel is 32 mate, he is not old at all. Lewis is 34, is he old?

      1. No, not in age of course. He is old in the scene, that prevents him to give 150% again and again. Being a former F1 DCC winner doesn’t give you the drive to do it again at high risks. These new kids on the block don’t care.

    2. Magnus Rubensson (@)
      20th February 2019, 11:15

      Wouldn’t surprise me if Leclerc went and won the first race … now that would be interesting. I hope he does! :)

      Playing the wingman will not do Leclerc any favours. The wingman route is the route that Irvine, Barrichello, Massa and Mika Salo have driven before.

      Salo really should have gone for the Hockenheim win in 1999…

      1. Jonathan Parkin
        20th February 2019, 12:49

        Yes but if your race seat is at risk if you play more than just the wingman it demands a high level of bravery to go for a win

        Look at Barrichello in Austria 2002. I now know through one of my F1 books that there was a deal to prioritise Michael until the championship was won and that was the reason why team orders were used.

        Even Nelson Piquet Jr was forced into this role by being forced to crash in Singapore

  5. “I think it’s very exciting for him the position to be in to drive the car of his dreams and so on so I can understand that even though I’ve been around longer but I feel still a little bit the same.”

    The thing is, it hasn’t really seemed like Seb still felt that way the past couple years. It seemed more like a burden with the expectation of Ferrari in his shoulders rather than the thrill of driving the best (or second best) car on the grid. One of the commentators said yesterday that Arrivabene seemed always to be on edge, and with Marchionne above him it isn’t hard to believe that’s how it was. I really hope that Seb is feeling the dream again and just letting it flow, and if both of them do that they will be very hard for other teams to beat.

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