Sebastian Vettel would "destroy" Charles Leclerc and "eat him alive" if they were paired at Ferrari in 2019, according to former world champion Jacques Villeneuve. Leclerc had been strongly linked with a move to the Scuderia, however Sergio Marchionne's sudden passing has reportedly put the brakes on the youngster's promotion.
Marchionne was reportedly keen to give the Monegasque a rare chance at Ferrari after the reigning Formula 2 champion's impressive start to life in F1 with Sauber.
However, Ferrari's new board are understood to be keen to minimise the turmoil and Kimi Raikkonen is reported to have been offered a two-year deal to remain alongside Vettel in one of F1's more harmonious team line-ups.
Villeneuve believes the move could end up benefitting Leclerc, telling F1's 'Beyond The Grid' podcast that Vettel would unlikely be the generous supporting team-mate if the hotly tipped 20-year-old showed up at Maranello.
Asked if Ferrari should retain Raikkonen, Villeneuve said: "Of course, look at the work he has been doing.
"He's third in the championship, he's often quicker than Vettel, when he's not he's what, a tenth behind? He's paramount in the development of the car.
"The whole team works fantastically well now, put a young cub next to Vettel; What will Vettel do? He'll try to eat him alive.
"And either he will destroy the young cub, or it'll end in tears and the whole team will end up going slower within two years, so that's not constructive."
Villeneuve believes that Leclerc should only be promoted when he is ready to properly challenge Vettel and Ferrari's rivals alike.
He explained: "Charles is still making a few mistakes, it would be great for Leclerc. It would be amazing for him, but it would be two years of Ferrari preparing him.
"Ferrari is like Mercedes, it's not a team to prepare drivers. It's a top team. Top teams, they buy and they pay the drivers as when they're at their best and when they want them.
"That's why you have junior teams to prepare them."