Leclerc ‘a combination of Gilles and Senna’

Mark Scott
Charles Leclerc Ferrari

Charles Leclerc says it will be "difficult" for Ferrari to win any time soon.

Pirelli CEO Marco Tronchetti Provera has reserved some high praise for Charles Leclerc after managing to claim a podium finish in Austria.

Ferrari’s fears over their competitiveness at the start of the 2020 season were compounded in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel was unable to make it out of Q2 while Charles Leclerc could only line his Ferrari SF1000 car up from P7 after being nearly a second slower than pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas.

While Leclerc did benefit from a double DNF from the Red Bull drivers and a five-second penalty for Lewis Hamilton for causing a collision with Alex Albon, he still had to put in what he described as one of the best races of his life to ensure he was in a position to clinch a podium spot.

Unsurprisingly, Leclerc has earned widespread praise back in Ferrari’s homeland of Italy and Tronchetti Provera was one of many approving voices.

“In my mind, Leclerc is a mixture between [Gilles] Villeneuve and [Ayrton] Senna,” Tronchetti Provera told Italy’s Radio Rai, as quoted by Formulapassion.It.

“He has the unscrupulousness that Villeneuve had and he has the natural driving talent as well as the calm of champions like Senna had.

“This race has shown the extraordinary quality of Leclerc who was able to take advantage of the Safety Car and then he made those two overtakes that made the fans dream.

“He saved a day that could have been very bad for Ferrari, giving a great show.”

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Not giving such a great show was the departing Vettel, who was wrestling with the car all weekend in Austria and a clumsy spin when trying a very ambitious move on Carlos Sainz at Turn 3 forced him to fight his way back to claim a single point.

Tronchetti Provera, though, is tipping Vettel to make amends as the season develops, starting with another round in Austria.

“He’s a serious person, a professional now going through a difficult period, but he has the qualities to recover,” he added.

“He has been used to winning, at the moment he is with a difficult car in a difficult personal position, but he deserves confidence in him and I think he will bounce back in the next few weeks.”

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