Charles Leclerc: GP3 title key to 2017 F1 hopes

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Ferrari protege Charles Leclerc believes he would be ready to make the full-time transition to Formula One in 2017, but knows he needs to win the GP3 Series title first.

Leclerc, who leads the GP3 standings by two points, was 16th fastest in opening practice for Haas at the Hungaroring on Friday, in what was the Ferrari Academy driver's second of five scheduled FP1 appearances in 2016. It followed his debut practice run at the British Grand Prix and an outing with Ferrari during the two-day in-season test at Silverstone.

When asked if he feels he could follow in the footsteps of Valtteri Bottas and Daniil Kvyat in making the jump straight from GP3 to F1, the Monegasque replied: "Yeah, I think so. We'll see then with the opportunity I get at the end of the year, but obviously if there is an opportunity, I will jump on it.

"The more laps I do, the more confident I feel in the car -- it was already better than in Silverstone, I felt a lot more confidence. I definitely need to win [GP3], and then we will see."

Under the current FIA regulations, drivers must accumulate a total of 40 superlicence points to qualify for an F1 drive. The 18-year-old already has 17 super licence points -- as a result of finishing runner-up in the 2014 Formula Renault 2.0 Alps and fourth in last year's Formula 3 European Championship -- but would have to win this year's GP3 crown (worth 30 points) in order to qualify for a place on next season's grid.

Leclerc admitted that Haas, which is yet to announce its driver line-up for 2017, would be an option if he can convert a title-winning campaign in GP3.

"Of course. But we'll see in September. For now, I don't know anything more."