Charles Leclerc’s contract does not have a clause saying he must be the number two driver to Sebastian Vettel when he joins Ferrari next season.
With just one year of Formula 1 experience under his belt, Leclerc will partner Vettel in 2019 while Kimi Raikkonen moves the other way to race for Sauber. Leclerc says he has not spoken to Ferrari about whether he will be allowed to race Vettel, but there is no language in his contract indicating he has to play a supporting role.
“It is the same at all teams where you have two drivers who start at equal stages and at one point in the season there will be some team orders because one driver is in the championship and one driver might not be,” Leclerc said. “This is normal. It happens in every team…”
Raikkonen — Ferrari’s last drivers’ champion — has been replaced in part due to Leclerc’s impressive form for Sauber this year. The move to Maranello brings with it increased scrutiny, as Leclerc is joining a team that has been winning races in each of the last two seasons. But the 20-year-old insists he isn’t fazed by high expectations.
“It is very strange because I can see that a lot of people think I will have a lot more pressure on my shoulders but I really don’t. I have a mentality which really takes off all the pressure. I really focus on myself and don’t really think about what people expect from me in the car.
“If I do the right job in the car and I work in the right way, then the performances will be there. I just fully focus on myself and do a good job on the car, so no, I don’t feel the pressure.”
Ferrari has had the fastest car at a number of circuits this season, and Leclerc says his goal will have to be to fight for the championship if it remains as competitive in 2019.
“It is difficult to say now, but my target is to go do the best job I have with the car. I think this year they have the best car and a chance to win the title, and if next year is the same then it will be the same, to win the title, and that will be a big thing. But I will have to grow a lot as a driver and take the best results possible.”