Sebastian Vettel has said that his Scuderia Ferrari team-mate for 2019 is not his decision, but warned against Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc rushing into the senior squad.
Leclerc, who has consistently impressed for the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team in his rookie season in Formula 1, has been rumoured to replace Kimi Räikkönen alongside Vettel for next season should Ferrari abstain from keeping their current pairing for a fifth successive year.
Whilst Vettel admitted that he would be “happy to continue” alongside Räikkönen, the German appreciated the positives in a Leclerc promotion.
“I like Kimi,” said Vettel, speaking to Crash.net ahead of this weekend’s German Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring.
“I’d be happy to continue like that, but it’s not for me to mention, to decide.”
Vettel said that Leclerc is set for “a great career” and stated that he should feel in no rush to progress too soon.
“Charles, one way or the other, will have a great career,” he continued.
“He’s a great guy, he’s fast, he’s got everything, so yeah, definitely, he has no rush. He’s young, but if you’re young you’re always in a rush with everything.
“I don’t know when, what and ultimately who but as I said it really doesn’t matter to me. For me it’s clear where I am next but I think both of them would suit into the team.”
Explaining his relationship with 38-year-old Räikkönen, Vettel said that the pair usually see eye to eye, despite a few on-track altercations, and approach situations in a similar manner. Contrarily, the four-times champion said that he isn’t overly familiar with Leclerc on a personal level.
“I don’t know Charles much,” Vettel added.
“I know him a little bit through the [Ferrari] programme.
I think [Kimi and I] get along. We have never any issues. Sometimes on track. I remember I drove into him, crashed into him.
“But I think the way we handle things is very similar, very straightforward, so I think it’s great to work with and great for the team, but it’s not my decision so we’ll see what happens.”
Räikkönen has shown improvements in form in 2018, collecting six podiums in the first ten races, and currently stands third in the Drivers’ Championship, 55 points behind championship leader Vettel. The Finn was asked whether or not he knew anything about his future beyond this season, but remained coy.
“I don’t know. I think obviously the team knows my side of the story, but obviously it’s their decision and that’s how it’s been many years in the past,” he told Crash.net.
“It’s been no secret that I have often had one-year deals. You need to ask them. In many ways, I am interested to know what I will do, and not just in my own life, but also my family, they are keen to know.”