Sauber confirms Leclerc for F1 practice outings starting in Malaysia

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Ferrari junior and runaway Formula 2 championship leader Charles Leclerc will appear for Sauber in four Formula 1 practice sessions later this year, starting next week in Malaysia.

Leclerc, 19, won last year’s GP3 title and is currently 59 points clear in the F2 standings with four races remaining.

The Monegasque driver has been linked with a drive at Sauber for 2018 given its technical partnership with Ferrari, with confirmation of his practice program pointing towards a future race seat.

“The Sauber F1 Team is pleased to confirm that Charles Leclerc will be in the cockpit of the Sauber C36-Ferrari during four free practice sessions ahead of the upcoming 2017 Formula One Grand Prix,” a statement from Sauber reads.

“Leclerc, the current leader in this year’s F2 series, will be participating in FP1 sessions during the race weekends in Malaysia, US, Mexico and Brazil.

“At the Malaysian Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc will be driving the Sauber C36-Ferrari for the first time in FP1 on Friday at the Sepang International Circuit. Regular driver Marcus Ericsson will take over the car from FP2 onwards.”

Sauber is expected to part company with Mercedes youngster Pascal Wehrlein at the end of the season, with Leclerc set to take his seat.

Ericsson’s future is also unclear after another tough and point-less season with Sauber, although his links to the team’s owners may keep him on for a fourth year at Hinwil.

Should Ericsson lose his seat, Leclerc’s fellow Ferrari junior Antonio Giovinazzi is the favorite to make the step up, having deputized for Wehrlein in Australia and China earlier this year.