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LeClerc to be Succeeded by Fellow Academy Driver

LeClerc to be Succeeded by Fellow Academy Driver

Antonio Giovinazzi has been tipped to replace Charles LeClerc alongside Marcus Ericsson at Sauber in either the 2019 or 2020 Formula 1 season.

All signs point to Alfa Romeo Sauber rookie Charles LeClerc replacing 2007 Formula 1 champion Kimi Raikkonen at Scuderia Ferrari in either the 2019 or 2020 Formula 1 season. At this point, everything about this deal seems to be done except for an official confirmation from the Italian team.

As a result, Sauber test driver Antonio Giovinazzi has been tipped to replace the 20-year-old Monegasque at the Swiss team. Ferrari urged Sauber to sign both Leclerc and Giovinazzi for this season, but while they did sign Leclerc, they re-signed Marcus Ericsson because of his financial backing, leaving the 24-year-old Italian without a ride.

Because of Sauber’s title sponsorship deal with Alfa Romeo, Ferrari have the right to choose the driver who lands in the one of the team’s two seats while Sauber have a free choice in regard to who to put in the other.

Sauber will likely bring Ericsson back for his fifth consecutive season with the team next year (and sixth consecutive season with the team in 2020). He currently sits in a 17th place tie in the driver standings with six points on four top 10 finishes through the first 14 races of this season, which puts him in the midst of what could become the best season of his career. Plus, as stated above, he has substantial financial backing.

Antonio Giovinazzi

Giovinazzi will likely be named Sauber’s other driver by Ferrari if it becomes officially confirmed that Leclerc will replace Raikkonen at the Scuderia beginning next year. If it is announced that Leclerc will not replace Raikkonen at Ferrari next year but will do so in 2020, Ferrari will likely keep him at Sauber next year and then promote Giovinazzi as his replacement in 2020.

Giovinazzi has test driven for Ferrari in each of the past two seasons. Last season, he also test drove for Haas, the other Ferrari-powered team on the grid aside of Ferrari and Sauber, and he has test driven for Sauber this year as well.

Last season, Giovinazzi made his Formula 1 debut as the substitute for the injured Pascal Wehrlein in the Australian Grand Prix and the Chinese Grand Prix. He finished two laps down in 12th place in the former after starting in 16th. However, after crashing in qualifying for the latter and being forced to start in 18th, he ended up crashed on the race’s fourth lap, which relegated him to a 19th place finish.

When will Sauber finalize their driver lineup for the 2019 Formula 1 season? Will they do what they are expected to do by confirming that Antonio Giovinazzi will replace Charles LeClerc assuming that Ferrari do what they are expected to do by confirming that LeClerc will replace Kimi Raikkonen?

If Ferrari decide to bring back Raikkonen for another year before signing Leclerc for the 2020 season, will Sauber confirm that Giovinazzi will replace LeClerc at that time. If so, when will they make this announcement?

Charles LeClerc
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