Andretti questions timing of Leclerc promotion

  • 09 Jan 2019 13:39
  • comments 3
  • By: Fergal Walsh

1978 Formula 1 world champion Mario Andretti has doubts over the timing of Charles Leclerc's promotion to Ferrari. The Monegasque driver received the seat despite competing in just one full season of F1.

Leclerc impressed the paddock throughout his maiden campaign, holding his own at the front of the midfield against experienced drivers at a handful of races. The 21-year-old replaces Kimi Raikkonen, who leaves for Sauber after spending five years in his second stint with the Scuderia.

The move has dawn intrigue, with some wondering how he will fair against four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. Vettel has failed to win the championship in the last two seasons, but Andretti thinks that the German is still the right man to lead the team.

"He is absolutely the right man for Ferrari," Andretti told Sky Italia. "I remember in his first year with Red Bull, I asked him what were his ambitions for the future and he immediately replied: Drive for Ferrari!

"He is the right driver for the job. I think it’s hard to say who between Hamilton and Vettel is better because they drive different cars, but they’re both good guys.

"The Leclerc-Vettel pairing seems correct, the alternative would have been to continue with Kimi because he and Sebastian got along very well. But we will see.

"Leclerc seems to be very good and being young means he has a good future ahead of him. It was Marchionne’s idea to promote him but I don’t know if this is the right moment for Leclerc. With two drivers in a team there must be a number one and a number two, having two number ones never works."

No surprise over Arrivabene sacking


The Scuderia outfit made headlines earlier this week when it announced that Maurizio Arrivabene had been replaced by Mattia Binotto. Andretti wasn't surprised by the news, stating that Ferrari is only in F1 to win.

"It doesn’t surprise me so much because there has always been a policy there: if they don’t win, someone has to leave," he said. "We saw what happened to Stefano Domenicali, who was great there… the team principal is always to blame.

"Ferrari must always be at the top because this serves to keep interest alive. Nobody works harder than Ferrari, because there you breathe and you live for Formula 1."

Replies (3)

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  • I think we all have our concerns with it, yet I actually think it all in all is a positive move. Assuming Leclerc will get proper guidance and patience, which isnt really hallmarks of the Scuderia... But it was bound to happen, so it might aswell happen now, lest he'd get sniped (figuratively or literally) by another team.

    • + 0
    • Jan 9 2019 - 14:00
    • I only see it as a positive. Kimi was so past his prime, and probably cost Ferrari a constructors championship. Leclerc is going to get a free year. I don't think anyone will blink if Lerclerc operates as a #2 driver to Sebastian in his first year. I'm also confident Charles will do better than Kimi and provide some more pressure to Vettel, who was all too used to having Kimi rollover on command and destroy his own race to favor Sebastian.

      • + 0
      • Jan 9 2019 - 17:58
  • Leclerc is one of the best rookies since Hamilton. But he looks very confident. He will have a lot of pressure this season but I'm sure Ferrari will make it easier for him. If he does well, more pressure will be on Vettel. I just feel this is a relay-race of F1 generation. Ocon might replace Lewis, Leclerc - Seb. We have seen that before.

    • + 0
    • Jan 9 2019 - 14:28

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