Sauber’s Charles Leclerc says it was a dream come true for him to join a team like Ferrari but insists he has no ‘pressure’ going in a top team and against Sebastian Vettel after just one year in Formula 1.
It has been a swift journey for Leclerc from being in FIA European Formula 3 Championship in 2015 to winning the GP3 Series in 2016 and then the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2017 – both as a rookie, to making his F1 debut this year in 2018.
He still hasn’t finished his first year in F1 but has been already announced as Ferrari’s new driver replacing Kimi Raikkonen alongside four-time champion Vettel in a very unlike Ferrari move, but certainly done by the Italian manufacturer looking at the future.
For the Monegasque as well, he feels no pressure as such to join the team in such a short span of time and having to deliver from the word go driving against the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen and even Vettel.
“It is very strange because obviously I can see that a lot of people think I will have a lot more pressure on my shoulders, but I really don’t,” he said to the media in Singapore. “I think I have a mentality that is really taking off all of the pressure.
“I really focus on myself and don’t really think about what people expect of me in the car. I believe if I do the right job in the car and if I work in the right way then the performances will be there.
“This is how I see the thing so I just fully focus on myself and the job I have to do in the car, and then I think the rest will come. To be honest I don’t feel the pressure. I’m not going to Ferrari to learn.
“I think I’ve had a very good season this year where I could learn most of it, and next year [my role] is to perform in a big team. I’m not saying I won’t learn anything anymore, because I have so much to learn still and I can still improve a lot in a lot of things.
“But definitely I will be a lot more ready than I was at the beginning of the year. Experience is always a plus, obviously, but if you are good enough in one seat then you are good enough.
“If next year I don’t have the results good enough to stay in Ferrari then it will be normal that I downgrade. But then I don’t deserve a Ferrari seat,” he explained. He started off slowly this year but has picked on well to score 13 points in an inferior car.
He is already seven points ahead of his experienced teammate Marcus Ericsson and has had several Q2 appearances along with Q3. For now, Leclerc looks ready for the jump, but he will have his task cut out once he is really into the season.