Frederic Vasseur: “Next step will be the biggest” for Leclerc

Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team team principal Frederic Vasseur is “fully convinced” that Charles Leclerc is ready for Formula 1, but says that “the next step will be the biggest,” for the rookie driver.

nineteen-year-old Scuderia Ferrari protégé Leclerc will make his F1 debut in the 2018 season, stepping up from a dominant ’17 Formula 2 campaign, in which he comfortably won the championship. 

Vasseur believes Leclerc, the first driver from Monaco on the F1 grid since Olivier Beretta in 1994, can deliver for the team this season and “has a very positive attitude to do the job.”

He has been very successful so far,” Vasseur told Motorsport Week.  “He has won more or less everything, but the next step will be the biggest one for sure. To do F1 is a different story.

“You have to learn about the tyres, about energy management, about engine management. It is a lot of things.  But first you also to learn about the tracks, for the first two or three circuits you will have to learn the track.

“I don’t have to put too much pressure on Charles’s shoulders. He has to deliver, but what is most important for me is to show he can improve across the course of the season.  The most important is to improve consistently during the season. He has a very positive attitude, and I’m fully convinced that he will do the job.”

Vasseur believes Leclerc is ready for Formula 1, but must be given time to adapt. Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Leclerc’s mind only on 2018

As Leclerc is a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, there is consensus that he will step up to the works Ferrari team in the future, possibly as early as 2019 or 2020 to replace Kimi Räikkönen. 

But Vasseur has made it clear that he expects Leclerc to only be focused on the coming season.

“I think Charles has to be focused on the job,” the Frenchman said.  “The worst case scenario would be for him to focus on what could happen in 2020. It’s the wrong attitude.

“He has to be focused on the current job with the Sauber engineers and not to think about the Ferraris.”