Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene has explained his reasoning behind signing protege Charles Leclerc for the 2018 season, saying the decision was made with Ferrari’s long-term future in mind.
Ferrari announced on Tuesday this week that Kimi Raikkonen, who had driven for the team since 2014, would step down at the end of the season.
On the same day, Ferrari confirmed Alfa Romeo Sauber driver and Ferrari Driver Academy member, Charles Leclerc, would drive alongside Sebastian Vettel for the 2019 season.
“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,” Arrivabene said in the Friday press conference for this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Ironically, Raikkonen was fastest in Singapore’s second free practice session.
Arrivabene explained that when making driver decisions, the long-term commitment of a driver must be considered.
“A long-term commitment means it’s not only for next year, it’s for the future of the team,” he said.
Kimi Raikkonen is the oldest active Formula 1 driver at thirty-eight.
Arrivabene said Ferrari had to consider how to “grow” the talent of twenty-year-old Leclerc.
Charles Leclerc has been a member of Ferrari’s Driver Academy since March 2016.
Since then, the Monegasque driver has won the GP3 and GP2 championships, before making his Formula 1 debut with Alfa Romeo Sauber this season.
Leclerc is the first driver since Felipe Massa to sign for Ferrari before winning a Grand Prix.