Former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn believes Charles Leclerc’s arrival at Maranello in 2019 will be a motivating factor for Sebastian Vettel.
Leclerc will replace Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel’s only partner at Ferrari since joining from Red Bull in 2015. Over the past two years, Ferrari has put up a strong challenge to Mercedes in both championships but fallen away in the latter stages of the season, and Brawn believes Vettel will be keen to improve his own performances alongside a new teammate.
“It’s been a decade since Ferrari has been capable of winning six grands prix and of starting from pole six times,” Brawn said. “Sebastian Vettel was a worthy opponent for Lewis Hamilton but unlike the Englishman the German failed to win all of the races he should have, nor could he win when he wasn’t favorite to do so.
“Kimi Raikkonen had a good season, with some amazing performances producing more or less what was expected of him. This year, his second stint at Ferrari has come to an end as he prepares to swap places with the rookie of the year, Sauber’s Charles Leclerc.
“The young Monegasque has been truly impressive in terms of speed and talent but now he has to make a significant step up. I’m sure his arrival at Ferrari will be a boost for the team and an added incentive for Vettel next year.”
Although Vettel’s drivers’ championship hopes ended in Mexico and the constructors’ title was won by Mercedes in Brazil, Brawn says Ferrari’s progress in recent years should not be overlooked.
“When one doesn’t win a world championship that had seemed very winnable, it’s inevitable that questions are asked in order to understand what went wrong. When the team in question is Ferrari, then the question is not just asked at the top but it becomes almost a national question in Italy, as I was able to see for myself during my decade in Maranello.
“Ferrari is condemned for finishing second in both championships, as it’s simply not good enough at home. And yet, there can be cause for satisfaction in Maranello, because over two years the team has managed to close a performance gap to Mercedes that in 2016 amounted to a second a lap.
“The shakeup of the technical management instigated by Sergio Marchionne bore fruit this year, with many new faces on the frontline but I think most importantly it resulted in a new approach to the way the team operated and that gave the team a new spirit.”