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Ferrari ready to roll out the red carpet for Leclerc

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Slowly but surely, the gates of Maranello are opening up to Charles Leclerc, the man most likely to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari next season.

The Finn delivered a string of strong drives in the early part of the current campaign, but the 38-year-old's performance has decreased in the last two races while Leclerc's momentum has been ramping up, the Sauber rookie scoring three top-ten finishes in the last four races.

According to Motorsport.com, the House of Maranello is ready to promote its junior driver to race alongside Sebastian Vettel next season.

Reports suggest that Ferrari initially considered awarding the drive to Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, but pairing the Aussie with Vettel - and taking on two very big salaries - would prove too costly for the Scuderia.

Queried on the subject of his driver racing in red next season, Sauber boss Fred Vasseur admitted the prospect seemed likely.

"We have to expect that Charles doesn't drive for us for long," said the Frenchman at Paul Ricard. "That's why we enjoy every good result with him."

Raikkonen was evasive on the matter, not denying the rumors about his future but suggesting he was no longer enamored with Formula 1.

"Nothing has changed since Canada," said the 2007 world champion.

"It's always more fun for everyone if we're racing properly.

"If you have races like Monaco, when everyone is trying only 80 per cent and they all follow one another, that's not very exciting for the fans or us as drivers.

"Over the years, we have changed the rules over and over but it didn't do anything," Raikkonen added.

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