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Sauber: Too early to make call on 2018 F1 seat for Leclerc

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Sauber Formula 1 chief Frederic Vasseur believes it is too early to make a decision on a 2018 race seat for Ferrari youngster Charles Leclerc despite his domination of the Formula 2 championship so far this season.

Leclerc, 19, won last year’s GP3 title before moving up to F2 where he currently enjoys a 59-point lead over nearest rival Oliver Rowland.

The Monegasque racer is widely tipped to move up to F1 next year with Sauber, the Swiss team having signed a technical partnership with Ferrari for 2018.

Leclerc is expected to take part in some free practice sessions towards the end of this season for Sauber, but team boss Vasseur thinks it is too early to make any firm decisions about a race seat.

“The [Ferrari] deal is based on the powertrain, which means it’s the engine and the gearbox and then we will discuss together the fact that we could extend the deal on another parameter for some other parts,” Vasseur said.

“On the driver point of view, I think that if it’s regarding Charles for example, I think he has to be focused on the Formula 2 championship, still a couple of races to go and it’s a bit too early to discuss about this.

“I hope we will have the discussion at some stage. But I think, to be honest, even for Charles, it’s a bit too early to put it on the table.”

Sauber currently races with Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein in F1, with the latter expected to depart at the end of the season given his ties to Ferrari’s biggest rival, Mercedes.

Pirelli reveals new super-hard, hyper-soft F1 tires in Abu Dhabi

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Pirelli has confirmed it will add two new tires to its range for the 2018 Formula 1 season, launching the ‘super-hard’ and ‘hyper-soft’ compounds in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

Pirelli currently makes three of its five dry compounds available to teams for each race weekend, and despite varying selections across the course of the season has struggled to offer much in terms of strategy options, with one-stop races being the norm.

The hope is that the addition of two new tire compounds and a re-alignment of their durability will offer teams more choices in races.

Pirelli confirmed plans to introduce a new softest tire below the current ultra-soft earlier this month, inviting fans to pick a name.

The pink-colored compound will be known as the ‘hyper-soft’ from next year, with the arrival of a new ‘super-hard’ (colored ‘ice blue’) also being confirmed at a launch event in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

“Compared to this year, when the tires grew by 25% to fit a brand-new generation of cars, the changes for next year are less far-reaching,” Pirelli head of car racing Mario Isola said.

“However, we’re pleased to present some important innovations with softer and faster compounds across the range: including the new hypersoft.

“We realized that, under the unique circumstances of this year, some of our 2017 compounds were perhaps conservative: the tires we have created for 2018 addresses this, in line with the objective of having around two pit stops at most races.

“However, the fundamental design concept of the tires hasn’t changed next year, preserving the attributes that all drivers have appreciated this year and allowing them to push hard from the start to the finish of each stint.

“The new range consists of faster tires that should lead to even harder and more spectacular racing in 2018.”

Besides the seven dry compounds made available, there will be the two rain tires – wet and intermediate – taking it to a total of nine for the 2018 season.