Marcus Ericsson has backed former Sauber teammate Charles Leclerc to “kick some ass” during his first Formula 1 season with Ferrari.

Ferrari has promoted its highly-rated protege to partner four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel for the upcoming campaign as it bids to bounce back from successive title defeats to rivals Mercedes.

Leclerc turned in an impressive rookie campaign with Sauber and his 2018 teammate and outgoing F1 driver Ericsson believes the 21-year-old Monegasque will continue to shine at the Scuderia.

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“I would be very interested to follow Charles at Ferrari,” Ericsson said.

“I think he can do really well, already next year.

“And of course if he does really well there it would reflect good on me, so let’s hope he kicks some ass over there!”

When asked if he reckons Leclerc will surprise Vettel, Ericsson replied: “I think so.

“It will be interesting to follow but I’m pretty sure he will do really well.”

Leclerc’s form has been highlighted by reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton, who admitted he will need to raise his game in 2019, while long-time rival Esteban Ocon has tipped Leclerc to pose a threat to Mercedes’ recent dominance of the sport.

“I think Charles will fight for the title next year for sure,” Ocon said. “At least it won’t be a surprise to me.

“I know he has a very good talent from day one. He’s one of the quickest guys out there, and I think he will show that next year, definitely.”

Leclerc’s move marks the first change Ferrari has made to its driver line-up since Vettel joined the team in 2015, with Kimi Raikkonen heading back to the Sauber squad that launched his F1 career.

F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn has warned his former team that Leclerc will be “less accommodating as Kimi” for Vettel and predicts a tricker driver dynamic than Ferrari has been used to in recent years.

 

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