Felipe Massa believes he had it tougher at Ferrari with Fernando Alonso than Charles Leclerc does with Sebastian Vettel.
The Monegasque driver put himself firmly in the Formula 1 spotlight last year when he stepped up to the red team and got the better of four-time champion Vettel.
Leclerc scored two race wins in Belgium and Italy, compared to Vettel’s one in Singapore, while he also recorded more pole positions and points than his illustrious team-mate.
Vettel must hit back in 2020 to avoid the prospect of becoming a number two to Leclerc, if he extends his contract at Ferrari beyond this year that is.
Massa was no stranger to that role as he played wingman to Fernando Alonso back in their days together in red from 2010-13, and the Brazilian believes he had it tougher than Leclerc does now with Vettel.
“I think it was harder for me with Alonso than him with Vettel,” Massa told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Fernando was very good in putting you under pressure. He didn’t leave you alone, in fact only Hamilton was able to keep him behind.
“Leclerc is a natural. He learns new tracks very fast and he has great instinct but it’s not only that, he is smart and thinks about the car and thinks what to do before doing things. That helps him to make fewer mistakes.
“Last year he improved during the season compared to Verstappen who has spent years making mistakes. Leclerc improved much faster.”
If Ferrari can provide a car to compete with Mercedes, then Massa predicts Leclerc to win the title.
“I always thought that Leclerc could put Vettel under pressure like Ricciardo did at Red Bull,” he explained.
“The first time I met him we were in Monte Carlo with a sponsor. It was me, Jules Bianchi and Charles, he was a nice kid.
“I followed his career I saw him in GP3 and immediately thought he would reach the top. I consider him a great talent. He proved to be fast in every category, he won everywhere and when he reached F1 he immediately proved to be good with Sauber and he continued with Ferrari.
“If he has a car good enough to compete with Mercedes he will win the title.”