Sebastian Vettel views new team-mate Charles Leclerc as a “full rival” and one that can put him “under pressure” throughout the 2019 season.
Ferrari are seemingly willing to favour Vettel over Leclerc if it helps with their chances of landing some silverware at the end of the campaign.
But Vettel is not taking anything for granted as he comes up against Formula 1’s rising star.
“He is a full rival,” Vettel told the media in Barcelona.
“He’s in the seat for a reason so I’ve got to take it very serious. You always have a close rivalry with your team-mate, but priority number one is to bring the team forward.
“Obviously I’ve been around a bit longer than he has so maybe there are different things he will have on his plate in the beginning but he’s a nice kid and I hope, in a positive way, you leave him alone to do his job.
“I’m very certain he will be quick enough and put me under pressure. We’ll see how it goes.”
Vettel enjoyed a strong relationship with Kimi Raikkonen before Ferrari announced a changing of the guard for 2019, but the four-time World Champion has said it is still too early to define the dynamic with Leclerc.
“I don’t know him as a team-mate yet, everybody is different, but I’m not overcomplicating these things, I’m taking it quite straightforward,” he added.
“I’m not the one starting any problems and I don’t expect that Charles is starting any problems.
“I’m actually looking forward to it. It’s very exciting for him to drive the car of his dreams, I can understand that. Even though I’ve been around longer I still feel a little bit the same.”