Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene confirmed in Singapore that new recruit Charles Leclerc has been signed up for a period of four years.
As the Scuderia banks on the future of its young talent, Leclerc’s signing will make the 20-year-old Monegasque the team’s youngest driver in its history since 19-year-old Ricardo Rodriguez was offered a guest-drive with the Italian outfit at the Italian Grand Prix in 1961.
After rumors that Ferrari was set to extend Kimi Raikkonen’s stay with the team, Leclerc’s deal – initially signed off by Sergio Marchionne before his untimely passing – was finally confirmed this week, to the detriment of the Finn who will swap seats with the new recruit as he heads to Sauber.
“When you make some choices like this, that are related to the driver, you don’t have to look only at the short-term commitment but also at the long-term commitment,” said Arrivabene on Friday.
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“A long-term commitment means it’s not only for next year, it’s for the future of the team – how you are going to grow a young talent, and what you want to expect from him for the future.”
The Scuderia boss said Leclerc’s signing was all about the Italian squad’s future, rather than about dismissing Raikkonen’s efforts.
“This has nothing to do with the respect that I have for Kimi, that is great, as a human being and a driver,” he said.
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“But if you have to do a choice, thinking about the future of the team, I think we made the right choice, for us and for Kimi.
“I signed with Charles in November 2016 the first contract in the Ferrari Driver Academy. In that contract we already designed and committed and signed and wrote his future in Formula 1.
“So Charles Leclerc is not a big surprise, he’s one of the talented drivers that we have in Formula 1.
“Thank God, it’s a guy that he grew up with us and I hope that he is going to continue his career with us, at least until 2022 for sure.”
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