Ferrari confirms Leclerc for 2019 F1 season
September 13 2018 , 10:45 pm
Charles Leclerc’s promotion to the Ferrari has finally been sealed after the Formula 1 team confirmed him as Kimi Raikkonen’s 2019 replacement.
Leclerc is a Ferrari Driver Academy graduate and will become the first product of the programme to drive for the Italian team in F1.
He will also be the second-youngest driver in history to race for Ferrari, older only than Ricardo Rodriguez.
“Dreams do come true… I’ll be driving for Scuderia Ferrari for the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship,” said Leclerc on Twitter. “I will be eternally grateful to Scuderia Ferrari for the opportunity given.
“To Nicolas Todt for supporting me since 2011. To my family. To a person that is not part of this world anymore but to whom I owe everything of what is happening to me, Papa. To Jules, thank you for all the things you learnt me [sic], we will never forget you, and to all the persons that supported me and believed in me.
“I will work harder than ever to not disappoint you. But first, there is a season to finish with an amazing team that gave me the opportunity to fight and show my potential. Let’s go Sauber F1 Team.”
The 20-year-old 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.
Leclerc has scored a best result of sixth, in Azerbaijan, and bagged 13 points to lie 15th in the championship, outperforming his much more experienced teammate 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 the Finn, 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 Leclerc will partner Sebastian Vettel in 2019 followed shortly after to complete the set.