Leclerc aiming to win in maiden season at Ferrari

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari. 28.11.2018.
© XPB 

Charles Leclerc says that he wants to win races during his first season with Ferrari in 2019.

In his maiden season in Formula 1 at Sauber, the 21-year-old driver's best result was sixth place in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. However next year he will be working with race-winning hardware, and intends to put it to good use.

"It is clear that racing for Ferrari, I would like to win a couple of Grands Prix," Leclerc said at Autosprint’s Caschi d'Oro ceremony in Italy on Thursday night when asked what his goals were for next year.

Ideally, he said that these would be at his own home race in Monaco, and Ferrari's equivalent event at Monza.

"But I cannot imagine what it will be like to race in Italy as a Ferrari driver!" Leclerc added.

He will certainly be under the spotlight in next season and will have to work hard to demonstrate that he deserves the seat formerly occupied by Tifosi favourite Kimi Raikkonen.

In addition, he knows he will also have to prove himself against one of the best drivers in the sport today, his new team mate Sebastian Vettel.

“Pressure? No, I don't feel it," Leclerc insisted. "Rather I feel the support and I must say that I am happy. My goal is obviously to do my best and respect the team’s expectations.

"I will have at my side a driver like Sebastian Vettel who will be an important help for me to grow and learn.

"He is a wonderful person, as well as a great driver," Leclerc added. "I got to know him when I worked at the Maranello simulator and he thanked me for the work I did."

When it comes to on-track performance, Leclerc was actually faster than Vettel in the SF71H in last month's post-season tyre test for `Pirelli at Abu Dhabi. Leclerc's best time of 1:36.450s was significantly faster than Vettel's 1:36.812s.

However the two men took the wheel on separate days and in different conditions, meaning that head-to-head comparisons will have to wait until they line up on the grid in Melbourne in March.

“How did I find it? Unbelievable," Leclerc replied when asked how his first run in the car as an official Ferrari F1 driver had gone.

"The car is fabulous to drive. It was a great honour as well as a great emotion," he added.

“Obviously we are talking about a test [so] it does not make much sense to talk about performance in absolute terms," he admitted. "But the feeling was immediately exceptional."

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