The 20-year-old expects to be a championship contender in his second season Charles Leclerc says he expects equal cars to Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari next year amid expectations that he will compete for the Formula 1 championship.
“My target is to do the best job with the car they have,” Leclerc said. “This year, they have a car to win the title. If next year it is the same, obviously (the target) will be to win the title, which is a big thing.
“This is definitely the target. I don’t know whether I will achieve that or not, but one thing for sure is I will give my absolute maximum. I have seen a lot of people who are doubting the decision, which is completely normal and I understand that, but I will just try to prove these people wrong and do the best job possible.
“Experience is always a plus, but I believe if you are good enough for an F1 seat, you are good enough from the year you arrive in F1. And if next year I don’t have the results good enough to stay in Ferrari, then it will be normal — I downgrade. But then I don’t deserve a Ferrari seat, and this is how I see the things.
“I will have to grow a lot and I need to deliver. I am not going to Ferrari to learn. I have had a very good season this year where I could learn the most of it. I have so much to learn still, and I can still improve in a lot of things. But next season is to perform where you should be in a big team.”
Ferrari has a history of running with a clear number one and number two driver structure. Michael Schumacher enjoyed the backing of Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso was supported by Massa.
Even 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen has played a distinct support role to Vettel.
While it would deviate from tradition if they changed this structure, Ferrari has already deviated by promoting Leclerc this early in his career, and he is confident that equal status will be applied when the season gets underway in Australia.
“It’s more or less like this in every team,” Leclerc continued. “You have two drivers who start the season on equal status and then at one point in the season, you see some team orders because probably one driver is playing for the championship and the other is not.
“This is normal — in every team, it’s happening. But I believe they will let us race at the beginning of the season.”