F1 2019: Sebastian Vettel talks up Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc
Four-time champion says new team-mate will put him under pressure in battle for supremacy at Ferrari
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 25/03/19 11:02am
Sebastian Vettel believes Charles Leclerc has already shown he will put him under pressure throughout 2019 at Ferrari.
Vettel outqualified and finished ahead of Leclerc at last weekend's season-opening Australian GP but the youngster ended up on the four-time champion's tail in the race, and was told over the radio to drop back in the closing stages.
Vettel had already predicted in pre-season that Leclerc would represent a "full rival" in their first year together and, in the wake of Melbourne, the German says the 21-year-old is expecting a fierce battle.
"He's done really well from what I've seen so far and he will put a lot of pressure on me the whole season," said Vettel.
"I'm aware of that and it will be very close. He's very talented.
"I'm sure we will have tough and tight battles this year but more than anything I hope we have a lot of fun together."
Ferrari's Leclerc verdict
Small mistakes in Q3 and the first stint of the race put Leclerc on the back foot in his battle with Vettel, with Ferrari generally performing well below their own expectations after topping winter testing.
But although the team's failure to finish on the podium went down as a big disappointment, Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto was happy with Leclerc's debut showing.
"I'm happy the way he is behaving as a team player, not only as a driver. He is very helpful for the team and very involved, trying to do his best and pushing the engineers hard and himself to have a better car," said Binotto.
"If you judge his entire weekend, it was a pretty strong one. His qualy wasn't perfect, he's aware of it, but he drove well in Q1 and Q2. He had a good weekend and I'm happy with the way he approached the first race.
"He's at the starting point and it's a good starting point."
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