F1: Charles Leclerc set to partner Vettel at Ferrari for the 2019 season
The series of rumors circling around the future of Monaco-based driver Charles Leclerc and Ferrari seem to have finally settled as the 20-year old has reportedly signed at least a one-year contract with the racing giants and is in line to be announced as a Ferrari driver for the 2019 season through an open statement later this week.
Currently placed 15th in the drivers' championship standings while racing for Sauber in the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship, Leclerc's future in the biggest global racing circuit was put under jeopardy when he was brought into the race for the second seat in the Ferrari team.
Leclerc's possible contract that would see him partner Sebastian Vettel raised questions about the future of Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen, whose contract with Ferrari ends after the final race in the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi.
It is understood that Leclerc's skill at the wheel initially caught the eye of ex-Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne, who is said to have negotiated a one-year deal with the soon to be 21-year old but the auto legend's untimely death put all the negotiations on hold.
While in the transition process to form the team at the cost of the sudden demise, the Ferrari management was keen to retain Raikkonen's services for at least another season, a decision which had to be taken against the ex-CEO's wishes.
The 20-year old Leclerc, who is the reigning Formula Two champion has been in fine touch in his debut season, finishing in the points from the last four of his five races, including a sixth-place finish at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April this year.
If Leclerc is announced as a Ferrari driver in due course of time, the decision could also virtually shut the door on Kimi Raikkonen's glittering career, his plan to move to McLaren thwarted by the the Britain-based team's decision to sign Carlos Sainz from Renault and 18-year old driver Lando Norris in place of the out-of-favor Stoffel Vandoorne that could see the Finland-based driver walking into the evening of his career.