Alfa Romeo Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur has shot down reports linking Charles Leclerc with a mid-season switch to Ferrari in place of Kimi Raikkonen and says “Charles is focused on the Sauber project”.

Speculation has grown around Leclerc being promoted to Ferrari from as early as the Belgian Grand Prix next month at the expense of Raikkonen, with the Finn heading in the opposite direction, but Sauber team boss Vasseur says no talks have been held on the Formula 1 rookie’s position.

The Ferrari junior driver has caught the eye with four points finishes from the opening eight F1 races so far this year while Leclerc also became the first Sauber driver to break into Q3 in qualifying for almost three years last time out at the French Grand Prix.

Vasseur feels there is no need “to speed up the process” in Leclerc’s F1 career and expects him to see out his full rookie campaign with Sauber.

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“We have a contract until the end of the season and we haven’t spoken so far about the future,” Vasseur said. “I can understand we have some rumours in the press, nothing to do with the reality.

“We are focused on our job. Charles is focused on the Sauber project. And then the future we will discuss. I think it’s better to finish the season, to have a normal approach and not to speed up the process. It’s not easy.”

Previous reports have pointed towards Leclerc stepping up to Ferrari to replace Raikkonen next season, while the Finn dismissed rumours linking him with a move to McLaren for 2019 during the pre-event Austrian Grand Prix press conference.

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