Hakkinen: Difficult to see Leclerc challenge Verstappen for title

Piero Ferrari: Leclerc can grow, Verstappen at his peak

Hakkinen: Difficult to see Leclerc challenge Verstappen for titleFerrari Vice Chairman, Piero Ferrari believes that, while Max Verstappen is currently driving at his peak, Charles Leclerc still has the potential to grow as a driver.

While Leclerc has shown abundance of talent since he made his Formula 1 debut in 2018 for Alfa Romeo, the Monegasque has been error prone, which showed more clearly when he joined Ferrari from 2019 onwards and started feeling the pressure of driving for the sport’s most famous team.

In 2022, Leclerc started the season well, winning two of the first three races that year, but then his season went wayward after a series of error from him not to mention Ferrari’s infamous strategic blunders in addition to reliability woes.

On the other hand, rival and double F1 Champion Max Verstappen has been the epitome of consistency while delivering devastating pace, especially on Sundays, and while many feel Leclerc is buckling under the pressure of driving an underperforming Ferrari, Piero, the son of Enzo Ferrari believes his star driver just needs more experience.

Verstappen is on his ninth F1 season, Leclerc on his sixth

Which somehow makes sense, as despite just being just 25 years old, the Dutchman already has 168 grands prix under his belt since he joined the F1 in 2015 at the age of 17, and has had his fair share of crashes and errors.

“He [Verstappen] is incredibly fast,” Ferrari told Autosprint. “He was already driving in F1 when he didn’t even have a driver’s licence in his possession.

“I was there when he got his first victory in Barcelona,” the Italian said of Verstappen’s victory on his debut with Red Bull at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix.

“He made his mistakes after that, his accidents. Now he is young and already has a lot of experience. He is a great driver who is now at the peak of his career.”

As for Leclerc, Ferrari said: “Charles has the speed to be equal to Verstappen. But he has less experience, in terms of number of GPs. Leclerc can still grow, he will grow.”

Leclerc has Carlos Sainz as a teammate at Ferrari for the third year in a row, but the Spaniard has struggled to match the Monegasque so far, but Piero Ferrari is not worried.

“I think we have not yet seen his true full potential, we are waiting for it,” the 77-year-old insisted.