- Credit: Ferrari

    Vettel praises Leclerc, rates him higher than Verstappen

    After a difficult weekend for Leclerc, Vettel praised the Monegasque, who he says is better than Max Verstappen.

    3d ago


    After the F1 Turkish GP, Leclerc's intense displeasure with his own failure to retain third place - as emphasized by his swear-laden radio outburst upon the race's conclusion - underlined a trait of the Monegasque's.

    That trait, specifically, is his unrelenting criticism of himself for each incident in which he has been involved, and it has been observed across years of the young driver's F1 career, like when he crashed in Qualifying for the 2019 Azerbaijan GP, and called himself "stupid" for it, or when an error at Germany that season saw him crash out, and he labeled his own mistake "unacceptable".

    His teammate Vettel, though, encourages the sophomore driver to consider that this lost podium is likely to be an insignificant blight on his record - one which Vettel says is likely to be decorated come the end of the 23-year-old's career.

    "I think having Charles as a teammate, I often see myself in him," Vettel began. "He’s a lot younger, he’s very quick. For his reaction to the lost podium, I told him later that being on the podium or not actually is a bit irrelevant for him because he has so many years ahead of him and so many podiums to come, which I’m sure of.

    "It’s right that he is angry, he did a mistake and lost the podium that way but as I said, in the big picture probably irrelevant for him. I think I’m mature enough, I never let this kind of stuff really heat up and get between us.

    "I’m happy for anything that he achieves and will achieve in the future because he’s a good kid but yeah, obviously it was a very tough race and I think all of, we were very close to losing it complete at various stages in the race. Obviously it’s extra painful when it happens in the last lap," Vettel concluded.

    The German had yet more praise for Leclerc, who he ranks above the rest of his age group - a cohort full of talent with the likes of Max Verstappen, and George Russell. "For me, I think Charles [Leclerc] is perhaps the biggest star for the future," Vettel told Sky Italia.

    "Maybe more than Max, because he's good. Yes, he is not happy losing the podium, but in 10 years for him to have this podium or not it will make no difference," he added, after finishing third ahead of Leclerc - registering his first podium of 2020.

    Peculiarly, this result - a standout in a 2020 season that has been full of poor results for the Italian team - came at a race where the team's principal, Mattia Binotto, was absent. The Italian may miss Bahrain as well as he wishes to oversee work at Maranello.

    The veteran Italian was replaced by Ferrari Sporting Director Laurent Mekies for the round, and though Vettel denied any correlation between Binotto's hiatus and the team's success, he appreciated the work of Mekies.

    "I think it’s quite bad, I think we scored probably the most points this year for us and Mattia wasn’t here! Yeah, if the next race we don’t score as many points we try again to leave him at home. No, I don’t think it’s related to that. I don’t believe in this kind of stuff.

    "I’ve worked with Laurent already 12 and 13 years ago and I think we has come a long way, I have come a long way and yeah, he does take care of us with Mattia not being here. I think he’s a capable guy and as I said, it’s not only down to him or down to Mattia, in the end it’s a team effort.

    "I think other drivers can tell the same thing. There’s so many people, so many different links that have to come together to have a good weekend and obviously this weekend we benefit from the conditions, probably the surface and also the wet conditions but yeah, we hope to have good races also the next three," Vettel concluded.

    [This story was written by me for FormulaRapida and edited by Darshan Chokhani]

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