Alesi heaps praise on Leclerc for Silverstone defence

Sam Cooper
Aerial shot of Charles Leclerc in action. Italy April 2022

Former Ferrari driver Jean Alesi has praised current driver Charles Leclerc for his performance during the British Grand Prix.

Leclerc saw his win chances slip away as Ferrari made two errors during the race at Silverstone. The first was not allowing him to pass team-mate Carlos Sainz when he had the pace advantage and the second was twice failing to pit him during the Safety Car period.

It left a bitter taste in Leclerc’s mouth with him receiving a verbal telling off from team boss Mattia Binotto and reports that half of the garage refused to celebrate Sainz’s win.

But Alesi feels too much is being made of this and the focus should be on the performance Leclerc produced when defending on old tyres.

The 58-year-old said Leclerc completed a “monstrous race” and that he “drove with impressive conviction.”

“I recommend that we keep the emotions we received, the ones Leclerc gave to all of us,” Alesi wrote for Corriere della Sera.  “Rarely have I seen drivers capable of doing what Charles did.

“A monstrous race, complete with an outside overtake on [Lewis] Hamilton at Copse, using hard, less performing tyres, after a point of banned attacks with equal conditions.

“An overtake worth a season. I would have given anything for something like that. Yet, he thought of it and did it. He drove with impressive conviction and that means possessing an attitude of extreme confidence.

“He really won me over, and these days, everyone around me, friend or fan, is talking about him, elated by his manoeuvres with a car that had lost grip shortly after the start.”

 

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Alesi also said that he believes comparisons between Leclerc and other Ferrari drivers of yesteryear, such as Michael Schumacher, are unfair and that the 24-year-old should be allowed to race as himself.

“I don’t get into comparisons with some big name in motorsports. I think Leclerc is Leclerc: an absolute monster. That matches up with another red monster, the car.

“This Ferrari is strong in qualifying, it’s always in contention in the race, it allows the drivers to push everywhere. Optimism is high thinking about the upcoming races, starting Sunday in Austria. The rest, the ensuing controversies are inevitable around Ferrari.

“Leclerc has gained in terms of popularity and awareness, despite not winning the points he deserved. He will excite us again also thanks to the car he drives: a winning Ferrari.”