The Monégasque driver had a strong rookie year at Sauber, often appearing in top 10 and took the Swiss team to Q3 for the first time in many years.
Impressed by his performance, Ferrari promoted him to a race seat in the Italian squad, replacing Kimi Raikkonen. Leclerc’s arrival at the Red team has set a lot of expectations for the youngster.
Fans and the media consider the change as a necessary disruption to re-energise the team and as a wake-up call to Sebastian Vettel.
As the former head of Ferrari’s Driver Academy, Rivola kept an eye on Leclerc’s progression through the years. He was in charge of the organisation from 2016 to the end of 2017.
Speaking with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Rivola said: “I believe and hope that Ferrari will give both the same opportunities and that the best will prevail,”
“There is no doubt that 2019 is considered an apprenticeship for Charles, but you can be sure that he will try to win right away.”
Recalling his time with Alonso and Vettel in their first year in F1, the Italian said Leclerc was close to the Spaniard in his ambition and energy than Vettel.
“I had the opportunity to work with Sebastian when he debuted in Toro Rosso, and with Alonso in his debut season in Minardi,” said Rivola.
“It is Fernando with the same anger as Charles in qualifying, and the same ability to always show amazing results,” he added.
Armed with a promising new driver and a celebrated engineer as the team boss, Ferrari seems invigorated to give Mercedes a good fight in the upcoming 2019 Formula 1 season.