‘Exceptional’ Leclerc ‘on a similar level’ to Verstappen

Jon Wilde
Charles Leclerc just ahead of Max Verstappen. Melbourne April 2022.

Charles Leclerc just ahead of Max Verstappen in the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne April 2022.

Christian Klien believes Charles Leclerc is showing himself to be a match talent-wise for Max Verstappen this season.

The 2022 campaign has been all about Leclerc so far, the Ferrari driver having won two of the three races and finished second to Verstappen in the other, beaten by only half a second.

Long regarded as a future World Champion, Leclerc has now established himself as the red-hot favourite to accomplish that feat this year.

He is obviously being helped considerably by Ferrari having mastered the new Formula 1 regulations with the F1-75 car. But Klien, who competed in 49 grands prix for Jaguar, Red Bull and Hispania between 2004 and 2010, thinks much of the success is down to Leclerc himself.

“Leclerc already showed what he can do against Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari at the beginning of his career,” the Austrian said on Servus TV’s ‘Sport and Talk from Hangar-7’ programme, quoted by Speedweek.

“Okay, Carlos Sainz is also good. But now the car is good enough to win, Leclerc’s exceptional talent comes to the fore. It’s like Verstappen, he has that quality too.

“I think driving-wise, Leclerc is on a similar level as Verstappen. I’m thinking of the races in Bahrain or Jeddah. You can definitely see Charles is ripe to have a say in the title.

“Leclerc can now draw on his considerable lead in the World Championship standings. But there have been years in Formula 1 when big gaps have been closed.”

David Coulthard, meanwhile, says Leclerc reminds him of a driver with seven world titles to his name, that being Michael Schumacher, due to his blisteringly fast start to the season.

“I had a little bit of a shiver actually, a flashback to when Michael was dominant in the Ferrari,” said the Scot, who was a direct rival of Schumacher. “All my fears came back again!”

Coulthard added of Leclerc: “We’ve got to acknowledge he’s a quality driver, a great human being.

“Ferrari have worked hard and [team principal] Mattia Binotto, what a cool character he’s been under all the pressure of the lack of performance over the last two years.”

 

“That was dominant,” added Coulthard of Leclerc’s triumph in the Australian Grand Prix, which he won by 20 seconds after Verstappen had been forced to retire in the Red Bull while running second. “That really was an impressive display.”

 

Leclerc dominant while Sainz struggles

Charles Leclerc took a Grand Chelem while Carlos Sainz had a weekend to forget in Australia for Ferrari.