Vettel’s scheduled departure will leave an opening for the most desired seat in all of motorsports, and it’s yet unclear if the 32-year old plans to look for a new Formula 1 team, change series, or retire from racing.
Ferrari has already invested heavily in a long-term contract for 22-year-old Charles Leclerc, who emerged as one of the top talents in Formula 1 during a breakout 2019 season.
Formula 1 connoisseur Mark Hughes thinks this season will be indicative of the future of Charles Leclerc.
The Ferrari driver has to show his dominance over teammate Sebastian Vettel this year. If he does not do this, the Italian racing team may doubt the youngster’s capability.
“Leclerc got the upper hand over four-time champion Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel last year, but didn’t truly dominate him,” Hughes says at The Race.
His performance was only slightly better than Vettel’s: “He did a better overall job, no question, but only by the margins that might be expected in the usual competitive ups and downs of circumstance between two roughly equal driver.”
And so Ferrari’s belief in the Monegasque is at stake: “But anything less than dominance over Vettel – perceived as damaged goods and past his best, regardless of whether that’s the truth – at Ferrari this year and Leclerc risks losing his Lewis Hamilton/Max Verstappen status before he’s even properly acquired it.”
Leclerc’s assignment gets more complicated when you realize that Vettel could start with an unprecedented motivation in 2020: “He’s going to be even less interested now [in co-operating], knowing he isn’t going to be at the team next year.”
“He is potentially hugely motivated to prove a point. A hyper-motivated quadruple champion unwilling to give an inch, fighting for his career, maybe even his legacy? That sounds like one very tough teammate”, Hughes concludes.
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THE NEXT RACE 2021
|Bahrain ||26 Mar|
|14:30 - 15:30||Free practice 1|
|18:00 - 19:00||Free practice 2|
|15:00 - 16:00||Free practice 3|
|18:00 - 19:00||Qualifying|
|18:00 - 20:00||Race|
|Bahrain||57 laps||308.238 km|