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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Charles Leclerc "greatest" claim made in Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen comparison

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Charles Leclerc is a “key man” for Ferrari and can be as much of a talisman for the Scuderia as Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are for their respective teams.

That’s the view of former Formula 1 star Felipe Massa, who knows a thing or two about the inner workings at Maranello. He spent eight years racing for Ferrari, and is regarded as one of the best drivers to never become world champion – though he came so achingly close in 2008.

Leclerc is also yet to achieve ultimate glory in F1, though the consensus is that he is more than capable of doing so. His title challenge last season did not stand up to scrutiny, though he was severely hampered by a lack of engine reliability and some horrible strategy mistakes made by his team.

Much has been made of the Monegasque’s future of late. His current contract expires at the end of the 2024 season with no sign of a renewal coming any time soon, and it has been suggested he could look elsewhere if he feels another team can offer a better chance of silverware.

New chief Fred Vasseur has made it clear contract talks are “not the priority” right now. “I don’t want to put this topic on the table today,” he told reporters, adding: “It wouldn’t be a good way to start the collaboration.”

The Frenchman has also declared that there will be no number one driver at Ferrari, insisting Carlos Sainz will be given the same opportunities as Leclerc. The Spaniard beat his team-mate in their first season together, but Leclerc flew out of traps last year and led the Ferrari charge.

Felipe Massa thinks Ferrari should make Charles Leclerc their top driver
AFP/Getty Images)

While that is a common statement for a team boss to make, Massa feels his old team might be better served by picking a clear leader from the off. “The car must be successful and the team functioning, the rest must be done by the drivers,” the Brazilian told Corriere dello Sport.

“After five or six races you understand who’s leading. Last year, after three Grands Prix, everything was already clear. Sainz was the best in his first year, but the car was not competitive. When the car was strong, in 2022, Charles was clearly at the top.

“If he does the same this year, it will be difficult for Carlos to recreate the situation of 2021. Leclerc is one of the greatest drivers in Formula 1 for me, a key man like Max Verstappen is in Red Bull and like Lewis Hamilton was for Mercedes.”

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