Charles Leclerc admits that he expects to be dropped by Scuderia Ferrari if he doesn’t meet the expectations when he joins the team for 2019.
Leclerc will replace Kimi Räikkönen at Ferrari for the 2019 Formula 1 Season, partnering alongside Sebastian Vettel after a strong rookie season with Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team. Räikkönen will take Leclerc’s place at the Swiss team for the next two years.
The twenty-one year old from Monaco will become Ferrari’s youngest ever driver in F1 since Ricardo Rodriguez, who raced with the Scuderia in 1961 at the age of 19.
Leclerc has an impressive junior career on his rise towards F1, winning the GP3 Series in 2016, quickly followed by the 2017 FIA Formula 2 championship before making his F1 debut.
Speaking to Tom Clarkson on F1’s Beyond The Grid podcast, Leclerc ahead of his move to Ferrari next year says that he can handle the mental pressure of racing with F1’s most historical team.
“I’m not a nervous person, there are tensions in this sport and at the start, there is adrenaline, but I would not say it is nervousness,” said Leclerc.
“If you ask me about the pressure, I think I can handle this because I have a mentality that I don’t feel the pressure at all. I know lots of people say, ‘yeah but the pressure in Ferrari is on another level’, but my mentality allows me to take of all the pressure.
“I don’t really take into consideration what people are expecting from me. The only thing I do is focus on myself and try to give the best possible performance on track.”
The move from Ferrari to bring in Leclerc over Räikkönen has been one of the biggest headlines in the sport over the course of the year, and expectation are high for the Monegasque driver.
The deal by Ferrari for Leclerc is reported to be a multi-year contract, but Leclerc believes that if his first year with Ferrari is ‘not good enough’, that the team should drop him altogether.
“If I’m not good enough next year, I should be dropped by Ferrari and this would be completely understandable for me. This is how I see it,” Leclerc added.
“If I’m good enough, I deserve to stay there. If I’m not, I deserve to be left off and I think that takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders.”
Leclerc’s big break would allow him to compete within the front of the pack, potentially competing for race wins and possible championships with Ferrari, a team he has had support from throughout his junior career.
Whilst Vettel has been leading Ferrari’s title charge over the last two seasons, with Räikkönen playing a supporting role for the German, Leclerc has brushed off any suggestions that he could play a backup role to Vettel for 2019 unless he is not in the fight for the world championship.
“I know lots of people are thinking this and me saying that won’t change what people think,” Leclerc continued.
“But as in every team, you start the year on an equal status and then at one point, once one driver is fighting for the championship and one is not.
“Then I believe it’s normal for the second driver to help the first one, which I’m ready to do in case I am the second driver and I don’t have my chances to win the championship. But apart from that, I don’t think I will go there to be a second driver.”