Charles Leclerc is not a top-three driver and Pedro de la Rosa explains why

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, head in hands. Bahrain, March 2023.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, looks upset with head in hands. Bahrain, March 2023.

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso could challenge Max Verstappen in the same car but Pedro de la Rosa questions whether Charles Leclerc could do the same, such is his inconsistency.

Formula 1 has seen Verstappen take over from Hamilton as the driver to beat in the past two seasons, the Red Bull driver bagging 27 wins in just 36 races.

Unchallenged by his teammate Sergio Perez with the Mexican driver scoring just four wins in that same period, de la Rosa believes Verstappen would have more competition if Hamilton or Alonso were his teammate.

Charles Leclerc doesn’t feature in de la Rosa’s top three

“If you put Lewis or Fernando Alonso in that car, it wouldn’t be easy. It wouldn’t be easy to say that Max would beat them,” he told the F1 Nation podcast.

“It would be very, very challenging for Max and for Fernando and for Lewis because I consider them to be the best three drivers in the grid. It would be done to the details.”

It begs the question where does Leclerc fit into the Spaniard’s equation.

The simple answer is he doesn’t with De la Rosa not rating him in the sport’s top three largely due to his inconsistency.

Racing for Ferrari since 2019, Leclerc has claimed just five wins in 96 races with Ferrari’s under-performing cars carrying most of the blame, but the driver also hasn’t done himself any favours through a list of crashes and mistakes.

Asked why Leclerc didn’t feature, De la Rosa explained: “I could have put Lando Norris there, [George] Russell as well, I think that they are all outstanding drivers don’t get me wrong.

“But I’m just looking at the most consistent drivers in an era. And those have to be Max, Lewis, Fernando.

“It doesn’t matter what compound, what cars they’re driving, what teammates they have, what circuits they’re driving, they’re always there, they’re always delivering something special.

“It doesn’t matter if they’re fighting for victories or, like in Fernando’s case fighting for getting into the Q3 or getting the last point at Alpine, they are always outstanding.

“They’re always doing something different and special. That’s what makes me admire these drivers.

“Charles, he’s fantastic for sure. But only time will tell if he gets into this top three. And that’s something we will all know in the next few years.”

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This season the Aston Martin ambassador reckons Leclerc has also been let down by an inconsistent SF-23, Ferrari struggling to understand the car’s ever-changing characteristics.

“One important thing is that if you look at the car, it seems to be very sensitive to different tyre compounds,” said De la Rosa. “So saw in Miami Carlos Sainz was flying in the first stint with the race, was all over Fernando, and then they went to different compound and he was gone.

“And then remember Charles with the tyres in Barcelona. He went with the hard compound and he was nowhere on the first stint with the hard and then on the last he put the same compound and he was flying and he couldn’t really understand why.

“So it’s not an easy car. It’s a fast car, but it has to have some issues.”

As Verstappen races to a third successive World title, only a disaster could halt his charge, Alonso and Hamilton are locked in a battle for third with just six points separating them. As for Leclerc, he’s P6, a further 53 points down, and has been overhauled by Sainz in the last two races.

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