Thuesday, 13 march 2018, 06:08 , by Martin Macdonald
Alfa Romeo Sauber team principle Fred Vasseur has thrown support behind his young driver Charles Leclerc and is "fully convinced" that current Formula Two champion is ready to succeed, but conceded that his next step-up "will be the biggest" of his career so far.
Leclerc is a member of the Ferrari driver development program and at just 19-years-old, will become the first Monegasque driver to compete in a Grand Prix since Olivier Beretta in 1994.
He has enjoyed success throughout his career in junior divisions, and his boss at Alfa Romeo Sauber has backed him to make the step-up to F1 seamlessly.
“He has been very successful so far,” Vasseur told Motorsport Week.
“He has won more or less everything, but the next step will be the biggest one for sure. To do F1 is a different story.
“You have to learn about the tyres, about energy management, about engine management. It is a lot of things. But first you also to learn about the tracks, for the first two or three circuits you will have to learn the track.
“I don’t have to put too much pressure on Charles’s shoulders. He has to deliver, but what is most important for me is to show he can improve across the course of the season. The most important is to improve consistently during the season. He has a very positive attitude, and I’m fully convinced that he will do the job.”
As Leclerc is a member of the Ferrari academy, there is speculation that he could be the driver to finally replace Kimi Raikkonen in the ranks of the Prancing Horse, but Vasseur has urged him to stay focused on Sauber for the moment.
“I think Charles has to be focused on the job,” the Frenchman said. “The worst-case scenario would be for him to focus on what could happen in 2020. It’s the wrong attitude.
“He has to be focused on the current job with the Sauber engineers and not to think about the Ferraris.”