How Leclerc established himself as Ferrari's new alpha
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How Leclerc established himself as Ferrari's new alpha

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Charles Leclerc began 2019 with specific responsibility to support Sebastian Vettel's championship ambitions. But Leclerc's relentlessly impressive form in an unexpectedly difficult season for Ferrari has changed the game, and created a newly volatile internal dynamic for the Scuderia to manage, writes SCOTT MITCHELL

How does an understudy oust the star? When does the beta know it is time to replace the alpha? What does a support act need to do to become the main attraction? Look to Charles Leclerc and one may find an all-encompassing answer. After all, he has unwittingly become the perfect Formula 1 subject for such questions.

Even if Leclerc wasn't asking himself these questions in relation to his position within Ferrari at the start of 2019, plenty were asking on his behalf. The 'what' seemed a certainty: eventually Leclerc would displace Sebastian Vettel within Ferrari. The 'when' was a little more unclear, but surely it would only be a matter of time. The main unknown was 'how'. After all, team principal Mattia Binotto called Vettel - a four-time world champion now in his fifth season with Ferrari - Maranello's "guide" to the title. Leclerc was the highly rated young upstart of whom Ferrari expected great things but did not want to crush under the pressure of expectation.

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