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Leclerc eyes title tilt with Ferrari

Sauber's Charles Leclerc is confident he can challenge for the Formula One title at Ferrari next year and believes he has the mental strength to cope with the pressure of driving for one of the sport's most prestigious teams at such a young age.

The reigning Formula Two champion joined Sauber at the start of this season. After impressing in a modest car, the 20-year-old from Monaco discovered last week that he will join quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari from next year, with Kimi Raikkonen moving in the opposite direction.

"Since I was a child, I dreamed of being a Formula One driver and now to be with Ferrari is above all my expectations," Leclerc said yesterday, ahead of this weekend's Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.

"I was always looking at the red car and to be in one of the two seats is incredible. It is strange as most people will probably think the move puts more pressure on my shoulders but I really don't feel that.

"I have the mentality to cope under pressure, I really focus on myself and don't think about what people expect from me in the car."

Vettel is embroiled in a tight title race with Lewis Hamilton and, although the German sits 30 points behind his rival with seven races left, the Ferrari is generally regarded as a superior car to the Briton's Mercedes.

Leclerc expects Ferrari to be equally as competitive next season and he says he is not joining the team solely as a backup driver to the 31-year-old Vettel,despite the vast difference in their ages and experience.

"This year, Ferrari have the car to win the title, so if that is the case again next year then the goal will be to win the title. It means I will have to grow a lot more as a driver but that is necessary to get the best results possible," he added.

- REUTERS

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