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Official: Leclerc to partner Vettel at Ferrari

NEWS STORY
11/09/2018

Thirty minutes after announcing that Kimi Raikkonen was to leave at season end, with Sauber subsequently revealing it had recruited the Finn for two years, Formula One's worst kept secret was finally out of the bag courtesy of the briefest of statements from Ferrari.

"Scuderia Ferrari announces that in the next Formula One racing season, Charles Leclerc will drive for the Team alongside Sebastian Vettel," it read.

Leclerc, a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, and widely tipped as a potential world champion, has greatly impressed in his debut season with Sauber, regularly getting the car into Q2 and even Q3, while scoring points in a number of races including a superb drive to sixth in Azerbaijan.

Though for a while it looked as though he might continue to serve his F1 apprenticeship at Sauber or even move up to Haas, speculation that he was to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari began to build over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

A week later, as if to rubber stamp the speculation, the youngster was seen being embraced by FIA president Jean Todt and his partner Michelle Yeoh, on the Monza grid, Nicolas Todt being Leclerc's manager and having guided him through much of his career, which included winning the GP3 and F2 titles in successive seasons.

"Dreams do come true..." tweeted Leclerc shortly after the announcement, "I'll be driving for Ferrari for the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship. I will be eternally grateful to 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 any more but to whom I owe everything of what is happening to me, Papa. To Jules, 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," he added. "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."

"It has been a great pleasure to support Charles Leclerc in his rookie year in Formula One," said Sauber team boss Frederic Vasseur. "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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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 13/09/2018 18:24

"If Ferrari does not win either Championship this season, there will be no No. 1 or No. 2 driver next season. A bold move like taking on a 21 year old driver should go bold all the way. Ferrari is not for training wheels. The fans won't stand for a neutered LeClerc. "

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2. Posted by Yeyox02, 12/09/2018 17:33

"To work at Ferrari, you first need a Ph.D. in political science and be a very good politician, if you do not know anything about Formula 1 cars, it does not matter.

"

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3. Posted by Spindoctor, 12/09/2018 14:37

"Almost wortrh paying the Murdoch Tax to see those two together.

Vettel's looking a bit sad compared to Hamilton at the mo'. As long as nobody does anything stressful, like trying to overtake, Vettel in the fastest car can win races. That leads me to suspect that M. Leclerc will be under strict orders not to try too hard, at least until he's delivered on the initial promise. By then Vettel will conveniently be placed to leave to Mercedes....."

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4. Posted by pap_pap_c, 12/09/2018 13:50

"Anyone else thinking 2019 at Ferrari may strongly resemble 2007 at McLaren? Vettel has never shown himself to be very tolerant of a competitive teammate. I, for one, am expecting fireworks, as Leclerc appears to be a very talented driver."

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5. Posted by Obsidian, 12/09/2018 1:15

"@ZJAY I agree that it is Ferrari losing a bit of confidence in Vettel. Had he not made serious mistakes in two of the last three races, I doubt they would have made this move.

@Tardis40 I am not so sure about that."

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6. Posted by Oldbuzzard, 11/09/2018 22:01

"I don’t believe this was a surprise move by Kimi. It’s a very neat deal to me. Ferrari wanted/needed a young promising driver. Sauber needs (desperately) an experienced driver to help the team develop the car. My guess is Ferrari is paying most of Kimi’s salary. As a Yank I can only bemoan the fate of Haas now. If the new Sauber team makes good headway, they, with Kimi, will drop Haas to the lower ten teams. What driver is left without a ride who can help Haas?"

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7. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 11/09/2018 18:36

"I think they'll regret letting Kimi go next season. Maybe Kimi will get to call the shots some at Sauber since they seem to need his help."

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8. Posted by ZJAY, 11/09/2018 16:41

"@Tardis40
Not sure Charles will play #2 role! I am a Vettel fan, however, singing Charles to Ferrari is actually a warning to Vettel. Since Kimi is not consistently challenging Vettle, Ferrari needs to up their game drivers wise. It is the only card Ferrari can play, still Charles may not deliver, we don't know yet.

Charles to Ferrarri is a Yellow card to Vettle."

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9. Posted by Tardis40, 11/09/2018 13:27

"Don't be too grateful. You'll be driving in a #2 role, Charles."

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