Charles Leclerc aims to challenge new Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel from the outset despite the team having said it is likely to favor the German early in the season.
New Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto admitted Vettel is likely to receive the team’s backing over new arrival Leclerc due to his experience and previous record with the Scuderia, while the 21-year-old finds his feet. Leclerc says he understands that approach, but hopes his own performance level gives Binotto tougher decisions to make during the year.
“Well, obviously I will be happy if I get used to this car as quickly as possible, and that I’m straight on pace,” Leclerc said. “I’m realistic too — it’s only my second season in Formula 1. I have a lot to learn, and there is a long road ahead.
“But I can’t hide that I’m pushing to be as ready as possible for the first race, and if Mattia has the problem to manage two quick drivers, then it’s a good sign for me.
“But for now I’m just focusing on myself, trying to improve every lap I am doing in the car. It is a top team, and there are procedures that are quite different to the team I was in before. There is a bit of adaptation, but I will push to be as ready as possible for Australia.”
Despite voicing his target, Leclerc says that doesn’t mean he can’t get on well with Vettel, talking up the working relationship the pair have enjoyed so far during pre-season testing.
“We are working very well together. Seb is a very nice guy; not very difficult to get on with him, so that’s good. We’re working on different things with the car. I won’t go too much into details but it has been good, and it is also good to have Seb next to me during these days, even though it’s quite difficult to compare one day with the other.
“It’s quite good to see what are his strong points and what I can learn from him. It has been interesting in many senses.”