What Leclerc's move to Scuderia Ferrari means for its future
Charles Leclerc's move to Ferrari signifies the beginning of a new era for Scuderia Ferrari. Leclerc is the first driver from the Ferrari Drivers Academy that started way back in 2009 with Jules Bianchi who passes away tragically.
Leclerc has been chosen to replace Kimi Raikkonen who has left for a two-year contract with Sauber. He has turned a lot of heads this season with a string of impressive performances, finishing as high as 6th place in the Azerbaijan GP.
Over the last couple of decades, Ferrari has built a reputation for signing experienced drivers. Schumacher, Barrichello, Massa, Alonso, Kimi & Vettel all had a good amount of experience in F1 before joining Ferrari, the least being four years. It is, therefore, a bit unexpected that Ferrari would sign Leclerc right after his debut season.
It would have definitely been better if they let him stay out in Sauber for another year or two before getting him into the Ferrari team. Leclerc despite having a great season is hugely inexperienced. While his success at Sauber is clearly reflective of the excellent skill set, he has another factor that must not be ignored is he does not have the hopes of millions of fans riding on his back.
While it is still very competitive and everyone is fighting to keep their spot in F1 Leclerc has the advantage of not having the massive pressure of performing extraordinarily every race as he is still a rookie in Sauber. Once he starts driving for Ferrari constant podium finishes will be necessary if Ferrari are to win the championship.
Leclerc is no stranger to driving at the highest level and his championship season in Formula 2 is a testament to the same the pressure of driving for a team like Scuderia Ferrari which has such a rich legacy and massive fan base across the world is a far bigger challenge. Whether Leclerc will have the maturity and grit to take on such a challenge head-on will be the biggest question for next year.
He will definitely have to be able to take on Bottas if Ferrari are to have any chance of winning the constructors trophy. He has so far been showing a great deal of maturity for a 20-year-old and has had a positive outlook even in races that he did not finish.
Another interesting point that would arise out of this move would be the relationship between Vettel and Leclerc. Will Ferrari make Leclerc a number two driver or would they let them race and allow Leclerc to be seen as the definite future phase of the organisation.
Kimi and Vettel have had a good relationship over the last few years and have not had any fights. Ferrari will definitely want a similar relationship. Vettel left Red Bull just one year after Riccardo came and Horner has said in the past Riccardo was definitely a factor in his moving to Ferrari.
Will Ferrari have to give team orders to Leclerc to keep Vettel happy if Leclerc starts to outpace him will be another key question that the Ferrari team management will face next year. If such a situation does arise, it would be a disappointment for the fans because at the end of the day they watch the sport for good old fashioned racing.
Another possibility is whether they will use Leclerc to help Vettel secure a championship in the manner in which Bottas has been assisting Hamilton this season. Therefore Leclerc's move to Ferrari will undoubtedly alter the dynamics of the management within the team and might significantly reduce their chance at getting the constructors trophy next year due to his inexperience.