2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button reckons new Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc could force teammate Sebastian Vettel into making a “tough decision” over his future. 

Ferrari has signed Leclerc to replace Sauber-bound Kimi Raikkonen and partner Vettel for the upcoming season as one of a series of major changes it has made to its F1 operation in a bid to end its decade-long wait for a championship title. 

Button, who has joined Sky Sports’ coverage for 2019, believes the situation could be similar to the one Vettel faced when he was beaten by Daniel Ricciardo during the Australian’s first year at Red Bull in 2014. 

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“I think it’s a very different atmosphere for Sebastian at Ferrari than it was at Red Bull,” Button told Sky Sports F1 during a promotional filming event in London. 

“Maybe there’s more pressure and we’re going to see how he copes this year. It’s going to be a big year for Sebastian. 

“When Daniel Ricciardo came in to Red Bull, he found the first year with Daniel difficult. Daniel put him under a lot of pressure and actually outperformed him.

“I think if Charles [Leclerc] can do that this year it’s a tough decision of where Sebastian is going to go for the future and what he’s going to do.”

Button said the way the four-time world champion responds to the new challenge will be pivotal to his success with Ferrari in 2019, while he thinks Leclerc’s attitude will stand him in good stead at his new team. 

“Seb’s an unbelievably skilled driver and super fast but if your mind isn’t in the right place, then forget it,” Button added.

“Charles seems like such a happy-go-lucky guy and very relaxed and I think the team are going to really take to him. 

“That’s something that can sometimes hurt the other driver.”