Leclerc: Sauber due a 'big boost' in 2018

Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc is expecting his new team to be far more competitive this year now that it has access to an up-to-date supply of Ferrari engines.

The Ferrari-backed Formula 2 champion comes to the team this year after it strengthened its ties with Maranello over the winter. Unlike last year when the Swiss team was running a 2016-spec engine throughout the 2017 season, Sauber will have Ferrari's latest engine and gearbox this year as well as a fresh injection of financial backing from Alfa Romeo.

After Sauber finished the last two seasons tenth in the constructors' championship, Leclerc is confident it will be more competitive in 2018.

"Having the new 2018-spec Ferrari engine in place will be a big boost for the team," Leclerc said. "The newly formed partnership with Alfa Romeo is also exciting news.

"As for my personal expectations -- my primary goal is to continue developing my skills as a driver, and to gain as much experience in Formula One as I can.

"In terms of my expectations and goals, I will work hard to support the team in developing the car during the season, so that we are able to obtain the best possible results in the 2018 season."

Leclerc has chosen 16 as his career car number, but admits it was his second choice.

"My favourite number is 7. Unfortunately, that number is already taken. I was born on the 16th of October, so the number 16 is significant to me. Plus, if you add 1 and 6, you get 7 -- that's a good compromise!"