Charles Leclerc says his target for the 2017 season is to win the GP2 Series title as a rookie, with the Haas development driver keen to further enhance his credentials ahead of a potential graduation to Formula One.
Leclerc is currently leading the GP3 Series by 29 points for ART Grand Prix with only one round to go in Abu Dhabi. The 19-year-old has made four free practice appearances for the US team in 2016, while also driving for Ferrari in the post-British Grand Prix test.
Leclerc had actually been tipped for an F1 promotion as early as 2017, until Haas team boss Guenther Steiner moved to say GP2 would be the next step for the Monegasque-born racer.
“It’s more or less decided for GP2,” Leclerc said. “We don’t know with which team yet, we’re discussing and trying to see which opportunity will be the best for me next year.
When asked about his targets for 2017, the Ferrari Driver Academy member, who is in talks with the “top three teams”, replied: “To win. I’m not going there to be second.
“It’s going be a hard year because it’s really difficult to win GP2 in your first year, especially with the new Pirelli tyres, but I’m going to give it my best. I still have the same goal, to finish P1 and then we’ll see how it goes.”
Leclerc adds that he feels he would have been ready for F1 had he been given the nod for 2017.
“I think so. A year in GP2 will help me grow as a driver and get more experience so that will only be positive. But if had an opportunity to be in F1 at the end of the year, I would have taken it with both hands.
“There was no seat available. I hope my time will come.”