Charles Leclerc is showing the qualities of a potential World Champion in the way he is maximising his results for a struggling Ferrari team.
So says Ross Brawn, Formula 1’s Motorsport Managing Director who thinks Leclerc’s performances are reminiscent of certain Michael Schumacher drives during the time they worked at Ferrari together.
Although the Italian giants are down in sixth position in the constructors’ World Championship standings, Leclerc has achieved a quartet of top-four finishes this season, the latest of which came at the Portuguese Grand Prix when he was best of the rest after the regular podium of Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen.
With 75 points collected, Leclerc is a long way ahead of his departing team-mate Sebastian Vettel who has collected only 18 in his final campaign before joining Aston Martin.
Brawn has been particularly impressed with the Monegasque driver, not only his displays behind the wheel but also how he has got to grips with the task in hand given Ferrari’s tumble down the pecking order.
Back home with a P4 !
Happy with the progress seen in the last few races.
Already can't wait to race in Imola 🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/LVSYOM8v0L
— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) October 25, 2020
“It was another very strong performance from Charles and he continues to give Ferrari motivation for next year after what has been a very challenging campaign so far,” said Brawn in his regular post-race column on the Formula 1 website.
“The team will know that when they are able to give him a more competitive car, he will deliver the results.
“A driver can go two ways when faced with a difficult car. It can demotivate them, their performances start to drop away and it helps nobody. It’s a double whammy.
“Or a driver can do what Charles has done and dig even deeper and find extra performance that helps subsidise the team when things aren’t so great.
“Through that process, when he does get the car underneath him, he will be a stronger driver.”
Ferrari, of course, enjoyed a golden era with Brawn, Schumacher and Jean Todt in the early years of this century, but they did not always have things their own way – and that is when an outstanding driver can make the difference.
Brawn added: “I often felt with Michael, there were races he won which he shouldn’t have won because the car wasn’t good enough but he managed to find a way to win. That’s what makes a World Champion.
“Lewis has demonstrated that. He’s got a great car now, but I recall him winning races when the car wasn’t a top performer. And Charles is doing similar at Ferrari right now.”