Sebastian Vettel says that he'll be sad not to have Kimi Raikkonen as a teammate when Charles Leclerc joins Ferrari next year.
Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, will leave Ferrari after the 2018 season following four years as Vettel's teammate.
Vettel and Raikkonen were friends even before they became teammates at Ferrari in 2015, and they frequently travel to races together.
The German reckons the Finn is the best teammate he has ever had: "Yeah, absolutely.
"Obviously one thing you can express in numbers and results and so on, but I think that's not the most important thing.
"I think the most important thing if you are teammates is the respect that you have for each other, or the degree of bullshit going on between each other, and with Kimi it has been zero from the start, and I don't think it will change until the end.
"Obviously it's a great chance for Charles, but also it's sad to know that Kimi is not there anymore because I think we get along even though we are different. As I said, we have this mutual respect for each other."
Asked if the dynamic in the team will change, he said he hadn't given the subject any thought.
"Obviously it's always a change, but to be honest right now nothing changes. So I'm more focused on the next races rather than next year. Obviously it's a great opportunity for him. He's been in the junior programme of the team for a long time, so it's good to see there's progression.
"I'm not thinking about that at all, so I have no thoughts. It's always going to be different. Everybody is different, so for sure there will be a different dynamic and so on, but I think he's a good kid and I hope that he integrates well. I'm sure everybody is willing to help."
Asked if taking a youngster was the right decision for Ferrari Vettel downplayed the subject of age.
"If you are fast and talented then the age doesn't matter. You can be fast and talented also when you are old on paper. I think Kimi is probably the best example, so you have two good examples.
"So age I think is not relevant. I think he deserves to be in F1, and as I said before it's great that he gets the opportunity to race in a big team, and then we'll see. We'll do our best to work on him, we want to work together as a team. But for now it's not that important, it's more important for next year."
Vettel admitted that he has had no contact with Leclerc since the announcement.
"It's correct. I don't have his number, but in these days I'm sure he was very busy anyway. If I get to see him then I'm sure that I'll find the right words. By the sound of it we'll have enough time to exchange our phone numbers in the future."
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