Charles Leclerc says he does not feel the pressure of being Ferrari's youngest Formula 1 driver for almost 60 years and wants to give team boss Mattia Binotto "a problem" by being on Sebastian Vettel's pace early on in the season.
Having topped the times on the second day of pre-season testing on Tuesday, Leclerc spoke to an eager press gathering at the Circuit de Catalunya and explained how his life has changed since becoming a Ferrari driver, and what expectations he has for his first season in red.
"I don't think about [the pressure]. I'm just trying to erase and delete what everyone is expecting from me," Leclerc began.
"Obviously anytime you are driving a Ferrari the expectations are big because it's a top team and probably the most legendary team in F1.
"I just need to focus on myself, putting pressure on myself won't change anything or make me perform better, if anything it will make me perform worse so I don't think about it."
A busy press call for @Charles_Leclerc who says he ‘does not feel pressure’ ahead of his first season with team, despite being the youngest @ScuderiaFerrari driver for more than 50 years. #F1Testing pic.twitter.com/qwULYMBVHL — Rob Watts (@robwattsf1) February 21, 2019
Since being announced as a Ferrari driver, Leclerc says his personal life has already changed and that he is recognised much more now, but the Monegasque played down suggestions that his role with the Scuderia would be vastly different from his role at Sauber.
"In my personal life, last year in Monaco it was changing a little bit," said Leclerc. "They see you as a Formula 1 driver and they know you a little bit, but I have to say that now being a Ferrari driver it's a bit different in the sense, especially in Italy, but my life on track doesn't change."
Binotto has suggested that Vettel will be "prioritised" early in 2019 as Ferrari chase a first title in more than a decade, but Leclerc is determined to put his stamp on the team and will not settle for just a maiden race win this year if it is his only one.
"If the car is capable to do more then I will obviously be disappointed to [only win one race] but on the other hand, winning a grand prix is a huge step and there is still a lot of work ahead for myself before [I win my first grand prix]," said Leclerc.
"I'm realistic. It's only my second season in Formula 1, I have a lot to learn and there's a long road ahead, but yeah I cannot hide that I'm pushing to be as ready as possible for the first race
"If Mattia has a problem to manage two quick drivers, then it's a good sign for me, but for now, I'm just focusing on myself."