Sebastian Vettel says he expects his new Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc to be a serious rival in the 2019 campaign.
Kimi Raikkonen was Vettel’s team-mate in his first four seasons with the Scuderia and the German outperformed the 2007 world champion every year, with Vettel finishing 69 points ahead of the Finn last term.
Leclerc has been promoted to Ferrari after just one season in Formula 1 with Sauber, with Raikkonen now driving for Alfa Romeo, and Vettel believes the 21-year-old will provide a real threat in the campaign ahead.
“Of course [Leclerc is a threat],” said Vettel, as reported by Motorsport Week.
“[He’s a] full on rival. He got the seat for a reason. I’ve got to take him very seriously.
“You always have a close rivalry with your team-mate. But priority number one is trying to bring the team forward.
Obviously I’ve been around a lot longer compared to him, there are different things here he will have on his plate in the beginning, but he’s a nice kid.
“In a positive way, leave him alone, let him do his job. I’m certain he will be quick enough and put me under pressure, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Vettel is 3.80 to win the Drivers’ Championship in 2019 and Leclerc can be backed at 7.50. Defending champion Lewis Hamilton is 1.80 and his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas is priced at 17.00.