1978 Formula 1 world champion Mario Andretti has doubts over the timing of Charles Leclerc's promotion to Ferrari. The Monegasque driver received the seat despite competing in just one full season of F1.
Leclerc impressed the paddock throughout his maiden campaign, holding his own at the front of the midfield against experienced drivers at a handful of races. The 21-year-old replaces Kimi Raikkonen, who leaves for Sauber after spending five years in his second stint with the Scuderia.
The move has dawn intrigue, with some wondering how he will fair against four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. Vettel has failed to win the championship in the last two seasons, but Andretti thinks that the German is still the right man to lead the team.
"He is absolutely the right man for Ferrari," Andretti told Sky Italia. "I remember in his first year with Red Bull, I asked him what were his ambitions for the future and he immediately replied: Drive for Ferrari!
"He is the right driver for the job. I think it’s hard to say who between Hamilton and Vettel is better because they drive different cars, but they’re both good guys.
"The Leclerc-Vettel pairing seems correct, the alternative would have been to continue with Kimi because he and Sebastian got along very well. But we will see.
"Leclerc seems to be very good and being young means he has a good future ahead of him. It was Marchionne’s idea to promote him but I don’t know if this is the right moment for Leclerc. With two drivers in a team there must be a number one and a number two, having two number ones never works."
No surprise over Arrivabene sacking
The Scuderia outfit made headlines earlier this week when it announced that Maurizio Arrivabene had been replaced by Mattia Binotto. Andretti wasn't surprised by the news, stating that Ferrari is only in F1 to win.
"It doesn’t surprise me so much because there has always been a policy there: if they don’t win, someone has to leave," he said. "We saw what happened to Stefano Domenicali, who was great there… the team principal is always to blame.
"Ferrari must always be at the top because this serves to keep interest alive. Nobody works harder than Ferrari, because there you breathe and you live for Formula 1."