“Maranello – Scuderia Ferrari announces that in the next Formula One racing season, Charles Leclerc will drive for the Team alongside Sebastian Vettel.” – is the official statement made by the Maranello team earlier today.
Charles Leclerc is a Ferrari Driver Academy graduate and will become the first product of the programme to drive for the team in F1. The 20-year-old will also be the second-youngest driver in history to race for Ferrari, older only than Ricardo Rodriguez.
Charles Leclerc won back-to-back titles in GP3 and Formula 2 to earn his F1 graduation with Sauber this season, and a stunning start to his grand prix racing career convinced Ferrari’s top brass he was ready for an immediate promotion. He has scored a best result of sixth, in Azerbaijan, and bagged 13 points to lie 15th in the championship, outperforming his much more experienced team-mate Marcus Ericsson.
His results and a dip in form for Raikkonen convinced the late Sergio Marchionne, Ferrari’s former chairman, to green-light Leclerc replacing the Finn next season.
That was complicated when Marchionne passed away in July and was replaced by Louis Camilleri, a supporter of Raikkonen, but Ferrari’s new hierarchy decided to honour Marchionne’s original plan.
Raikkonen’s exit from Ferrari was confirmed on Tuesday morning and swiftly followed by the news he will return to Sauber next season.
Ferrari’s confirmation that Charles Leclerc will partner Sebastian Vettel in 2019 followed shortly after to complete the set.