In Brief

F1: timing of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari move questioned by Mario Andretti

Esteban Ocon backs Racing Point to take ‘step forward’ and Fernando Alonso reveals his biggest achievement

Racing legend Mario Andretti says he’s unsure if it’s the “right moment” for Charles Leclerc’s move to Ferrari.  

It was announced last year that the 21-year-old Monegasque driver would replace Kimi Raikkonen as Sebastian Vettel’s partner at Ferrari.

Leclerc raced for Sauber last season in his rookie year in Formula 1 and although Andretti believes the youngster has talent, PlanetF1 reports that he has expressed doubts about the timing of the switch.

Speaking to Sky Italia, 1978 F1 champion Andretti said: “Leclerc seems to be very good and being young means he has a good future ahead of him. It was [Sergio] Marchionne’s idea to promote him but I don’t know if this is the right moment for Leclerc. With two drivers in a team there must be a number one and a number two. Having two number ones never works.”

However, Andretti does believe that Vettel is “absolutely the right man for Ferrari” despite the German missing out on the 2018 title to Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton.

The American, who is 78, added: “I remember in his first year with Red Bull, I asked him what were his ambitions for the future and he immediately replied: drive for Ferrari! He is the right driver for the job. I think it’s hard to say who between Hamilton and Vettel is better because they drive different cars, but they’re both good guys.”

Wehrlein set for Ferrari role

According to reports, Pascal Wehrlein is set to become a development driver at Ferrari. F1.com says the 24-year-old German-Mauritian will “swap the Mercedes silver overalls for red” this year after Ferrari development drivers Antonio Giovinazzi and Daniil Kvyat left for Sauber and Toro Rosso respectively.

Ocon backs former team

Esteban Ocon has tipped Racing Point to be strong contenders and close the gap on F1’s leading teams. Formerly known as Force India, the team has been rebranded as Racing Point after it came out of administration last season.

Ocon, who raced for the team last year before being replaced by Lance Stroll, told Autosport: “It is a massive gap to fill but they will make a step forward, that’s for sure. Resources have always been the issue and there will be less of this issue next year. I believe they will be strong contenders.”

Award was Alonso’s highlight

Fernando Alonso says that winning the Premio Principe de Asturias award is his greatest achievement so far – even greater than his two F1 titles.  

The Spaniard won the world championship in 2005 and 2006 but has singled out the 2005 Premio Principe de Asturias as his career highlight. The prize is awarded in Spain to those who’ve achieved “greatness in science, humanities, public affairs and sport”, PlanetF1 reports.

The 37-year-old, who retired from F1 at the end of last season, said: “The Premio Principe de Asturias is probably the biggest thing I achieved, even more than any Formula 1 championship.

“That kind of award is about changing people’s lives and introducing a lot of people into one sport. So, those kinds of things are much bigger than any trophy.”

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