Former Ferrari race engineer Rob Smedley has said Charles Leclerc has the ability to raise the team in the same way Michael Schumacher did.
Although he finds himself trailing both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez in the Drivers’ Standings, little blame can be attributed to Leclerc himself.
The Ferrari driver has taken a step up this season and had it not been for car issues as well as poor team strategy then he would no doubt be up there challenging Verstappen for the lead of the World Championship.
Smedley, who spent 10 years at Ferrari most notably as Felipe Massa’s race engineer, has said he can see the same qualities in Leclerc as he did in Schumacher.
“He, [Leclerc] Max and Lewis [Hamilton] are able to raise the level of the whole team, dragging others along and conveying a winning spirit,” the 48-year-old told Gazetta.
“The same ability that Michael Schumacher had at Ferrari, when he was a catalyst, surrounded by [Jean] Todt, [Ross] Brawn and [Rory] Byrne. From these drivers comes the drive to react to mistakes and improve.”
The former race engineer, who now works for the organisers of Formula 1 selected Leclerc as one of the drivers on the current grid that he likes.
“Lewis Hamilton has achieved incredible things, it’s amazing what he has done on and off the track with his message.
“Leclerc and Verstappen are exciting. Charles wins the audience because he has a normal background, he is not the son of a rich family in Monte Carlo. Then there is the up-and-coming generation of which [Lando] Norris and [Pierre] Gasly are a part.”
As part of his role, Smedley provides data to F1 which suggests how audiences may better engage with the sport. This can then result in changes such as the overhaul of regulations for 2022. One of these was how to reduce turbulence when following behind another driver.
“We started with a survey of fans, from which emerged a desire to see closer duels on the track. As F1 we had to look for a solution to reduce the negative effect of turbulence on overtaking.
“We studied the fluid dynamics of two cars, put one behind the other, and came up with a single-seater model, together with the federation, from which the teams started to design the cars according to the new regulations.
“It’s good to hear the feedback, it always happens when something new is introduced, in this case huge. But the indications tell us that we have gone in the right direction. The ground effect cars are already as fast as the 2021 cars, and by the end of the season they could overtake them.”