Ferrari prodigy Charles Leclerc handed four Friday practice sessions by Sauber

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Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc will appear in FP1 at four of the remaining six races of the season for Sauber, the team which appears poised to sign him for 2018.

Leclerc is the runaway leader of the Formula 2 championship and is currently 59 points clear with four races remaining. A move up to the F1 grid with Sauber seems likely to be his next step given the fact the team is due to switch to Ferrari power next year.

The Monegasque driver will appear in the opening sessions in the car in Malaysia, U.S, Mexico and Brazil before handing back to one of the team's regular drivers for the rest of the weekend. Thursday's announcement confirmed he will replace Marcus Ericsson for the first of those at Sepang, but did not say who will step aside on the other three occasions.

Leclerc, who drove for Ferrari for one day of the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test in Budapest, visited the Sauber's factory on Thursday for his seat fitting in the C36 car.

Sauber is the only team on the grid yet to confirm either of its drivers for 2018. The new Ferrari deal makes it likely Leclerc will join the tam, but there is uncertainty about who his partner would be.

Ericsson enjoys close ties to team owners Longbow Finance and would be a logical choice to continue, but Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne and team boss Maurizio Arrivabene understood to be keen to see current reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi -- who deputised for Pascal Wehrlein in Australia and China this year -- given a full-time drive too. Talented Mercedes junior Wehrlein looks unlikely to retain his seat despite out-qualifying Ericsson 8-4 and scoring the team's only points of the season in Spain and Azerbaijan.