Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur says that Charles Leclerc needs time to learn the ropes in Formula 1. The 2017 Formula 2 champion will compete in his first season of F1 this year, having been signed up by Sauber at the end of 2017.
Sauber enters the year following a dismal 2017 campaign. The Swiss squad finished bottom of the standings and scored points on just two occasions. However, it now holds a title sponsorship deal with Alfa Romeo and will run with up-to-date Ferrari power units.
With pre-season testing concluding in Barcelona on Friday, it would appear that Sauber will be competing once again towards the rear of the field. Leclerc also spun his C37 a couple of times, making contact with the wall on the final day of testing.
But boss Vasseur says that the Monegasque driver must become accustomed to the challenges of the sport: "I know Charles for… not 10 years but more or less because he’s done go-karting with us," he told Motorsport Week.
"He was very successful so far. He won more or less everything, but the next step will be the biggest one for sure. Between GP3 and F2, F3 or GP3, it’s more or less the same situation. To do F1 is a different story. You have to learn about tyres, about energy management, about engine management to deal with you. It’s a lot of things.
"But first you will have also to learn about the track, the first two or three circuits you will have to learn the track. I don’t have to put too much pressure on the shoulders. You have to deliver, but what is most important for me is to show he can improve across the course of the season. I know where we are today, similar for Charles also."