Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc has scored points in five of the 11 races in his debut season with Sauber. In this picture, Leclerc of Monaco and Sauber F1 waves to the crowd on the drivers parade before the Formula One Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheimring in Hockenheim, Germany, July 22, 2018. Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Charles Leclerc continues to play down rumors suggesting he is on his way to Ferrari to replace Kimi Raikkonen for the 2019 season, making it clear he is focused on the current season with Sauber.

The Ferrari academy driver is considered the rising star in Formula 1 as his ongoing debut campaign with the Sauber team continues to go from strength to strength. The Alfa Romeo backed team were expected to bring up the rear of the grid when the season got under way — but Leclerc has dragged them into Q3 on a few occasions and scored points in five of the 11 races thus far.

Raikkonen has been with Ferrari since 2014 — his second stint with the team — but is yet to win a race or consistently challenge his teammate Sebastian Vettel in the last few seasons. The Finnish racer has been a regular podium finisher this season and currently lies third in the F1 Drivers’ championship.

Ferrari have generally stuck with experienced drivers rather than put pressure on a young driver, but they are yet to hand Raikkonen a new deal for the 2019 season. The Finn, however, made it clear he is keen to stay for at least one more season.

Reports in Italy, meanwhile, are suggesting a deal to move to the works team from Maranello has already been agreed with Leclerc, but Monegasque driver made it clear there have been no talks about any move to Ferrari thus far. But admitted he will never get tired of his name being linked with the Italian marque as his dream is to drive for F1’s most successful team in the future.

“Well I think I’ll never get bored to be asked this type of question, because obviously a future in Ferrari is something very special,” Leclerc said, as quoted on PlanetF1. “But on the other hand, I unfortunately have nothing more to give than what I’ve already said.”

“There have been no talks, and for now I’m just really focusing on this year, which is extremely important for me.

“I’m completely aware that if I don’t do good results here, it can already end next year for me,” he added. “So I just need to do the job here, and then hopefully I’ll have a very good opportunity for next year.”

All talk about a potential move to Ferrari in 2019 can be distracting for a young driver in his debut season, but Leclerc insisted he has not allowed the speculation to take away his focus from what is important — his full commitment to having a successful season with Sauber.

“Luckily, I think naturally I don’t really think about it,” Leclerc said. “Once I’m getting into the mindset of driving, I don’t think there’s much that is interesting me apart from doing the best job possible on-track. So yeah, it hasn’t really distracted me so much.”