Will third place give Leclerc Ferrari 'priority' over Vettel?

Charles Leclerc does not expect to be given number one status at Ferrari next year if he finishes the 2019 season in third place in the drivers’ championship.

With Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas cemented in first and second place, Leclerc leads Max Verstappen and team-mate Sebastian Vettel in a closely matched race for the final ‘podium’ spot.

Leclerc’s achievements can be put into sharper context given he began 2019 trying to overturn a “priority” that Scuderia chief Mattia Binotto had given to Vettel.

Although he is in prime position to join the Mercedes duo at the end-of-season FIA gala, Leclerc says third place will only result in personal satisfaction and not something more seismic within Maranello.

“It’s definitely not for the gala, and it’s not to take the leadership [at Ferrari],” he said. “Being third in the Formula 1 world championship would be crazy.

“Last year I was fighting for 13th position, and I never imagined I would be fighting for a podium in the world championship this year, so just for a personal achievement, it would be great and I would be extremely happy.

“After the first four or five races, I never imagined I’d find myself in this position at that moment of the year.

“I worked a lot on qualifying at the beginning of the season. I changed a few things, it went quite a lot better from France onwards.

“I’m very satisfied with the season. I had no expectations in terms of results, but I wanted progression. So on that, I’m very happy.”