Ocon convinced Leclerc can fight for the title in 2019


Force India's Esteban Ocon says he wouldn't be surprised to see future Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc fight for the title next season.

Leclerc's high profile move to the Scuderia, where he will replace Kimi Raikkonen alongside Sebastian Vettel, is fueling a large debate about his prospects for 2019.

While some believe the Monegasque still needs to hone his skills and boost his experience before fighting for top honours, many have suggested that the 21-year-old will hit the ground running next year.

"Charles will fight for the title next year," Ocon told Swiss newspaper Blick. "Or that would at least not be a surprise to me.

"I have known from day one that he has a lot of talent. And that's exactly what he will definitely show next year."

In the past, Lewis Hamilton and Jacques Villeneuve both won their maiden world championships in their second seasons in F1.

But Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene - who will oversee Leclerc's efforts from next season - thinks his future driver will need to exert patience.

"Next year Charles must gain experience and learn from Sebastian," he told La Repubblica.

"He has the luxury of being able to face a year in which he will not be asked anything other than bringing the car to the finish line.

"He must do his (Ferrari) debut without pressure and absorb Vettel's efforts like a sponge," Arrivabene added.

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