Former Ferrari racer Eddie Irvine has insisted that the Italian Formula One (F1) team must "sacrifice" Sebastian Vettel next year to back Charles Leclerc's chances in winning the world championship.

With Lewis Hamilton having sealed the drivers' title and two more races left this season, Leclerc leads his Ferrari teammate Vettel by two places and 19 points in the championship table. Leclerc has also out-qualified his four-time champion teammate 10-7 over the sessions where both the racers set times.

Amidst several controversies already taken place between the Ferrari teammates this season, Irvine has slammed Vettel saying the German is "not a worthy four-time champion."

Irvine, who finished as runner-up in the 1999 World Drivers' Championship, driving for Ferrari, has suggested that he was not surprised when Ferrari roped in Vettel from Red Bull but he also emphasized on his opinion that like this year, Vettel would again hamper Leclerc's chances of winning a world championship in 2020.

The 54-year-old former F1 racer went on to add that Ferrari need to focus on Leclerc in the future as Vettel has time and again showed that he is not a driver who deserves a No.1 status in the team.

“I said at the start of the year, and everyone went a bit crazy, that Sebastian Vettel was a sitting duck. I thought Leclerc had a good chance of beating him because I don’t think Vettel is a worthy four-time World Champion. I think he is a very good driver, but he makes a lot of mistakes and I never really thought he was that fast."

"We are seeing that this year. We saw it with [his season against] Daniel Ricciardo and we’re seeing it again now with Leclerc. Vettel got an amazing deal with Ferrari. I was surprised that they took him because it was at a stage where he was getting destroyed," Irvine said in an interview recently.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel backed the cancellation of Saturday's programme
Sebastian Vettel. AFP / Behrouz MEHRI

Blaming Vettel for Ferrari's losses in various races this season, Irvine said, "I think Ferrari have to focus on Leclerc, but we’ve seen this season Vettel not being sacrificed because he is a four-time World Champion. They’ve lost race wins because of it."

"I know Mattia Binotto [Ferrari team principal] very well. He was my ex-engineer and he is a smart guy, super calm, but I think this is one of the difficult things that he has to get on top of, because I think Vettel can do enough damage to Leclerc’s chances of winning the title which I don’t think [Valtteri] Bottas can do to [Lewis] Hamilton."

Appreciating the young French racer, the Ex-Ferrari driver, said the only racer who can challenge Hamilton right now is Leclerc.

"The only guy I think that can race at the same level as Hamilton is Leclerc. If you look at Vettel every time he is in a race, close to close, he comes off second best. Hamilton always destroys Vettel in a head-to-head race. If you look at what Leclerc did to Hamilton in Monza, it was probably illegal but it was so perfectly done that it was hard to punish him for it. It was so beautifully done and that’s why I really interested to see Leclerc go head-to-head with Hamilton more," Irvine added.