Charles Leclerc is confident he has demonstrated enough evidence of his talents to Ferrari and what he can do up against Formula 1 teammate Sebastian Vettel.

At the start of the season Leclerc - who was signed by the Scuderia as Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement after just one season in F1 - said his goal was to change Ferrari’s stance over its drivers positioning with the team, after team principal Mattia Binotto made it clear from the offset that the team would back four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel in any early championship scenario.

But a turnaround of form since the Austrian Grand Prix has seen Leclerc beat Vettel more regularly in both qualifying and races, with the Monegasque taking two victories to Vettel’s sole win in Singapore. As a result, Leclerc currently occupies third spot in the drivers’ standings, 11 points clear of Vettel.

Asked if he feels he has been successful in his aim, Leclerc replied: “I think Mattia probably is the better person to ask as to whether it has changed or not.

“But on my side, I’m happy with my own performances. The main goal was to improve this season, I took this challenge as a huge opportunity to be next to Seb and to learn from him and I think I achieved most of my targets.

“I’m happy with the way I’ve grown this year, there’s still a lot to learn for sure but I’m happy with this first season.”

Leclerc stressed he would leave it with Ferrari management to decide whether his performances have warranted being given equal treatment for next season.

“I’m definitely not the one who takes the decision for next season,” he explained.

“But one thing is for sure is that I think that I worked pretty well this season, I’ve improved quite a lot.

“I understood completely the situation as I’ve mentioned at the beginning of the season. I think I’ve been quick in some races, I’ve shown what I was capable of, and now I leave it to Mattia and the management to decide.”

Ferrari’s attempts to orchestrate the start of the Russian Grand Prix backfired with tension over team orders emerging between its drivers, and Leclerc revealed the team has not discussed how it will approach the long drag to Turn 1 in Mexico.

“First of all I think we need to do a good position in qualifying, both of us, and then we will see how it goes,” he added. “But we haven’t discussed about it yet. 

“We’ll be doing what the team asks, so of course if they ask us to do so it will be done. 

“It’s a long way to turn 1. So it was a very long way also in Sochi! I don’t know if pole is the best way to start but we’ll definitely give it all for pole position and then we’ll see.”

Additional reporting by Julianne Cerasoli

 

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