Sebastian Vettel says Charles Leclerc’s performances for Ferrari haven’t come as a surprise to anyone inside the Scuderia as he sees their partnership as the ideal combination to returning the team to being regular Formula 1 title contenders.

Since joining Ferrari in 2015, Vettel has been seen as a key part in seeing the Italian manufacturer fight back to the front in F1 having taken 13 of the team’s 15 Grand Prix wins since his arrival.

But with Leclerc taking both of Ferrari’s two wins so far this year, while Vettel has struggled in comparison, the four-time F1 world champion says Leclerc’s performances have met expectations this season despite it being only the Monegasque’s second year in F1.

“I think it is positive that he has surprised people outside but inside he has been with the Ferrari driver academy for a while. It was clear to see that he had a lot of potential and he had a very strong rookie season with Alfa so I think it is good to see that he was right on the pace straightaway,” Vettel said.

“From a team point of view I think it is important that we work together not against each other, that seems to work so that is important otherwise it would be a waste of energy. Those are key.

“It was a big weekend for him [in Belgium] even though it was overshadowed by the circumstances and the passing of Anthoine [Hubert].”

Having been partnered with Kimi Raikkonen since joining Ferrari before Leclerc’s arrival this season, Vettel feels the pair make a positive partnership as they look to restore the team as a regular front-runner having struggled so far in 2019.

“We are trying to work together to push the team as our car is not where we want it to be,” he said. “We don’t have the car or ability to win every race so that is our objective so it serves both of us if we push in the right direction.

“I believe one day we will have that car and then we can fight it out.”

Leclerc moved ahead of Vettel in the F1 standings thanks to his victory at the Italian Grand Prix coupled with the German’s mistake-strewn Monza weekend where he finished a lowly 13th place after spinning off and clashing with Lance Stroll while trying to re-join the track.

Vettel picked up a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for the incident and is now just three penalty points off an F1 race ban.

 

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