Sebastian Vettel believes his Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc has the potential to be the future of Formula 1, maybe more so than Max Verstappen.
Vettel is now only three races away from the end of his six-year spell with Ferrari, and few would have been disappointed to see him pick up a podium at the Turkish Grand Prix in what has been a dismal farewell year for the four-time World Champion.
Vettel made it onto the podium thanks to a last-lap mistake from Leclerc who dropped from P2 to P4 when Racing Point’s Sergio Perez and Vettel took advantage of the error, and Leclerc was certainly beating himself up after the race.
However, Vettel urged his team-mate to see the bigger picture beyond that podium, and he certainly backs the Monegasque driver to achieve plenty of success in the future.
Leclerc and Max Verstappen are seen as Formula 1’s major stars in the waiting, but Vettel sees more potential in Leclerc to fulfil that role.
“For me, I think Charles is perhaps the biggest star for the future, maybe more than Max, because he’s good. Today I think he is not happy, but in 10 years for him to have this podium or not it will make no difference,” Vettel told reporters after the Turkish Grand Prix.
“Having Charles as a team-mate, I often see myself in him as well. He is a lot younger, he is very quick.
“I haven‘t had the chance to talk to him after the race, but I will tell him later that being on the podium today is a bit irrelevant for him because he has so many years ahead of him, so many podiums to come. I am sure of that.
“It is right that Charles is angry. He did a mistake, lost the podium that way. But as I said, in the big picture probably irrelevant for him. I never let this get between us. I am happy for anything that he achieves and will achieve in the future because he is a good kid.”
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Ferrari told Leclerc to turn team radio off after the race as he berated himself for the error despite the team’s attempts to congratulate him.
The 23-year-old compared the incident to his qualifying crash at the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix during his first season with Ferrari.