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Arrivabene: Times are changing

Ferrari bucked tradition when they decided to promote 20-year-old Charles Leclerc to the Scuderia starting next year, team chief Maurizio Arrivabene justifying the decision by pointing out that the modern era requires a different strategy.

Drivers accepted into the house of Maranello have typically been experienced campaigners, even world champions. Today in Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen they have two drivers with five titles between them.

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The Leclerc promotion was something of a surprise as most of the paddock expected Raikkonen to hang in there for another season with the young Monegasque gaining another year of experience with Sauber.

But that’s not how it panned out as the sport’s most famous team went for youth with the long-term in mind and with immediate effect, Arrivabene explained why to Sky Sport, “Times are changing. The most important thing is to keep our DNA but also to look forward to the future.”

“If you look at the situation in the paddock today, Red Bull took Gasly alongside Verstappen and McLaren have Sainz with Norris who is a rookie.”

“Looking to the future, Mercedes making the choice two years ago [appointing Valtteri Bottas to partner Lewis Hamilton] they already have an advantage. The best way to be able to gain something is to make that choice and to grow up a talent that was born into the Ferrari driver academy.”

Vettel made it known that he favoured Raikkonen staying on, but clearly his opinion mattered little in the final decision that resulted in the veteran Finn swapping seats with rookie Leclerc for next season.

“Sebastian is our driver,” continued Arrivabene. “He is not a team principal, with all due respect. My job is to look at the overall situation, to discuss with my bosses, to give to them a long-term plan.”

“When we were talking about the long-term plan, the decision is taken by the management and not by the driver,” insisted the Italian team chief.

Leclerc has made it known that he is not going to Ferrari as a number two, but realises he will have to hit the ground running because his every move will be analysed with a microscope.

Nevertheless, he has respect for Vettel, “As team-mates, it is difficult to act as a mentor, but we respect each other a lot and he has always been very nice with me.”

“In the past, we spoke a lot and we have a good relationship; I will definitely learn a lot from him because to be driving alongside such a champion is always very helpful for a young driver like me,” added Leclerc.