‘Leclerc battle will be added incentive for Vettel’

Date published: December 3 2018

Charles Leclerc’s arrival at Ferrari could be the added motivation that Sebastian Vettel needs next season to step up a gear, says Ross Brawn.

Next season Vettel will have a new team-mate after Ferrari opted to replace Kimi Raikkonen with Charles Leclerc.

It has the potential to shake things up at Ferrari as while Raikkonen has often played number two to Vettel, Leclerc may not be willing to fill that role as he looks to make a name for himself in Formula 1.

And that could be the extra motivation Vettel needs to finally beat Mercedes to the World title.

This year, although Ferrari launched a challenge, they fell short as mistakes crept into their game allowing Lewis Hamilton a relatively easy run to the title.

“It’s been a decade since Ferrari has been capable of winning six grands prix and of starting from pole six times,” Brawn said.

“Sebastian Vettel was a worthy opponent for Lewis Hamilton but unlike the Englishman the German failed to win all of the races he should have, nor could he win when he wasn’t favorite to do so.

“Kimi Raikkonen had a good season, with some amazing performances producing more or less what was expected of him. This year, his second stint at Ferrari has come to an end as he prepares to swap places with the rookie of the year, Sauber’s Charles Leclerc.

“The young Monegasque has been truly impressive in terms of speed and talent but now he has to make a significant step up. I’m sure his arrival at Ferrari will be a boost for the team and an added incentive for Vettel next year.”

And while the F1 sporting boss concedes Ferrari have questions to answer after finishing runner-up, he reckons they can still give themselves a pat on the back for what they achieved in 2018.

“When one doesn’t win a World Championship that had seemed very winnable, it’s inevitable that questions are asked in order to understand what went wrong.

“When the team in question is Ferrari, then the question is not just asked at the top but it becomes almost a national question in Italy, as I was able to see for myself during my decade in Maranello.

“Ferrari is condemned for finishing second in both championships, as it’s simply not good enough at home. And yet, there can be cause for satisfaction in Maranello, because over two years the team has managed to close a performance gap to Mercedes that in 2016 amounted to a second a lap.

“The shakeup of the technical management instigated by Sergio Marchionne bore fruit this year, with many new faces on the frontline but I think most importantly it resulted in a new approach to the way the team operated and that gave the team a new spirit.”