Leclerc is only slightly younger than Verstappen, but the Dutchman is considerably more experienced on track with 76 Formula 1 race starts compared to Leclerc’s 16.
“They did well [to swap Kimi Raikkonen for Leclerc], besides the huge talent he also has an incredible head on his shoulders, in my opinion he is even more mature than Max Verstappen,” Massa told Italy’s Corriere della Sera.
“I am convinced that one day he will be able to become world champion. And together with Sebastian Vettel, they will push each other. Ferrari in 2019 will have a great driver pairing.
On the 2018 title race, Massa believes that Mercedes‘ recent superiority has been mostly down to the Silver Arrows getting back ahead in the development race.
“I thought Ferrari was in with a chance, on many occasions they proved to have the better car, but then Mercedes developed the car better,” Massa added.
“Earlier they managed to score more points thanks to Ferrari’s mistakes, like at Hockenheim and Monza, but now they have a technical advantage.
“They also stay calm despite the lead they have on the table. They put zero pressure on Hamilton whose last three or four races have been incredible, phenomenal qualifying. Difficult to see anyone at his level.”