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Charles Leclerc is the real deal - Todt

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Nicolas Todt is full of praise for F2 prodigy and protégé Charles Leclerc, believing the 19-year-old's chances of stepping up to the big time in 2018 are strong.

When Formula 2 presented its next generation car yesterday at Monza, Leclerc tweeted that while he was impressed with the new machine, he was also hoping that he would never drive it as it would signify a failure to race in F1 next season.

That disappointing prospect appears unlikely however given the young talent's outstanding performance this season and the Ferrari support he enjoys which should lead him to Sauber in 2018.

"It's clear that Charles is an exceptional driver," Todt told French broadcaster Canal+.

"His first objective is to win the Formula 2 championship this year, an accomplishment  which few have achieved in their first year in the series.

"My job is to try and get him into Formula 1 as soon as next year. I can't tell you if he'll be there but I'm rather confident. Given his results in F2 there's no reason he shouldn't be in F1 in 2018.

Leclerc currenty holds a 59-point lead in the F2 championship standings, with Renault protégé Oliver Rowland in second place.

The young Monegasque has declined to take part in FP1 sessions with Sauber this season to keep his focus on his F2 efforts. But it was confirmed this morning that he will in fact drive for the Swiss outfit in Malaysia, Austin, Mexico and in Brazil.

An F2 race clash with Suzuka will prevent Leclerc from driving in Japan but he would be back behind the wheel at Sauber for the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

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