Charles Leclerc is developing into a leader at Ferrari, revealed team principal Mattia Binotto who went as far as to liken their homegrown Young Gun to the Scuderia’s greatest driver Michael Schumacher.
Although the legendary German arrived at Maranello already a double F1 World Champion and older then than Leclerc is now, nevertheless, Binotto sees many similarities between the two.
In an interview with F1’s Beyond the Grid, Binotto explained, “Both are very talented drivers. I think that Charles is one driver that is certainly a talent; he’s fast, he’s capable of overtaking, he’s fantastic in protecting the position.
“I think he’s got the mentality in which winning is a clear objective for him and I think that what is pushing him in all his actions is that he will always try to win.
“He is not simply there to participate, but I think he is there to win. And when he puts his helmet on, he is on the track as a racer – second place is never satisfactory for him, as it wasn’t for Michael.”
“Charles is a lot younger to Michael at the time. He needs to develop as a leader of the team… because the success of Ferrari tomorrow will be dependent as well on the way he will behave as leader himself. But I think that while Michael was already a leader, Charles is developing as a leader. But he is developing well.”
Flashback to the late nineties when Ferrari were building up to that golden era at the turn of the century; Jean Todt, Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne went on to build one of the most formidable team’s in F1 history.
Binotto points out, “I often compare it; I think there are similarities, no doubt. The first, I think, is that Ferrari at the time, 1995 to ’98, 2000, we were investing as we are investing today.
“Investing in technologies but investing in people as well, so employing young people and young engineers. I look at Ferrari in the last years, we have employed a lot of young engineers, which today are starting, becoming our foundation and I think that there also was a leader, as a driver – Michael at the time.
“I think today we’ve got Charles who is… not as experienced as Michael and is not a world champion while Michael was, but I think that we’ve got a clear leader on track, as a driver, and that’s important as well.
“I think there is the commitment of the entire company to try to build a winning cycle in the future and I think there are similarities, yes, there are,” concluded the Ferrari team boss.
This week the Scuderia has fired up a variety of F1 cars for their academy drivers as well as inducting Carlos Sainz into the team, he and Leclerc will spearhead the team’s efforts.
The big question is: Can Binotto and his crew give both their drivers a decent enough car to try an emulate the heroics of the great Schumi.