Charles Leclerc says he would expect to be dropped by Ferrari if he fails to meet expectations during his first season with the Italian Formula 1 team in 2019.

Leclerc will replace Kimi Raikkonen as Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari teammate next year following an impressive rookie campaign with the revitalised Sauber team.

Ferrari has traditionally named conservative driver line-ups and favoured experience but regular points finishes and a spate of Q3 appearances across a brilliant 2018 season has prompted the Scuderia to promote its protégé after just one full season in F1.

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Speaking in an interview with the official F1 podcast Beyond the Grid, Leclerc was open about how he is mentally approaching his debut campaign with Ferrari.

“I’m very honest. If I’m not good enough next year, I should be dropped by Ferrari and this would be completely understandable for me,” Leclerc said.

“This is how I see it. If I’m good enough, I deserve to stay there. If I’m not, I deserve to be left off and I think that takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders.

“I’m not a nervous person, there are tensions in this sport and at the start, there is adrenaline, but I would not say it is nervosity,” he added.

“If you ask me about the pressure, I think I can handle this because I have a mentality that I don’t feel the pressure at all. I know lots of people say, ‘yeah but the pressure in Ferrari is on another level’, but my mentality allows me to take of all the pressure.

“I don’t really take into consideration what people are expecting from me. The only thing I do is focus on myself and try to give the best possible performance on track.”

Leclerc also rubbished suggestions he could play a supporting role to Vettel next year, insisting there is “absolutely not” a clause in his contract that will prevent him from fighting the four-time world champion.

“I know lots of people are thinking this and me saying that won’t change what people think. But as in every team, you start the year on an equal status and then at one point, once one driver is fighting for the championship and one is not,” the Monegasque explained.

“Then I believe it’s normal for the second driver to help the first one, which I’m ready to do in case I am the second driver and I don’t have my chances to win the championship.

“But apart from that, I don’t think I will go there to be a second driver.”

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