Cars

Formula 1: That’s why Leclerc’s situation is reminiscent of Vettel

Does the scene look familiar to you? A Ferrari star loses control of his racing car while in the lead, rushes through the gravel bed and hits the gang. The end not only means a serious setback in the fight for the world title, but also causes deep scratches in the image of the former savior. The Scuderia and its fans can be merciless when the pilot fails.

What applied to Charles Leclerc after the French GP in Le Castellet also applied to Sebastian Vettel in the more recent history of the traditional team. In 2018, the German crashed in first place in the Sachs curve of the Hockenheimring. The beginning of the end of his Ferrari career. From then on, the belief in the four-time world champion was gone. His successor as Messiah in Red: Charles Leclerc.

Ironically, the talented Monegasse, who was given a contract by Ferrari until 2024, is now feeling the parallelism of events. Because the Italian press can be merciless when it comes to Ferrari’s failures.

“Leclerc’s insecurity is becoming the insecurity of the entire team,” Corriere dello Sport writes in a blunt manner about the once highly acclaimed pilot: “An insecure champion can be a great pilot, but not a leader.” What’s more: “Unacceptable” mistakes leave “deep marks”, judges the Corriere della Sera. They “destroy dreams” adds “Tuttosport”.

Vettel, while in the lead, retires from the 2018 Hockenheim Grand Prix due to a driving error on a wet track.


At Vettel, such criticism also started a downward spiral within the team. Is Leclerc strong enough to fight his way out of the low?

His first reaction was desperate. First Leclerc yelled on the pit radio, then he had to sit down on a camp chair for the marshals. Back in the paddock, he first locked himself in his driver’s compartment. After all: Later he took the accident on his cap.

But even these honest statements fueled doubts about the ability of the World Cup runners-up. Sky expert and ex-world champion Nico Rosberg could hardly imagine that Monegasque should actually have made such a driving mistake. Max Verstappen shook his head almost pityingly: “Our lead is bigger than it should be when you look at the potential of the cars.”

Lewis Hamilton can also well imagine what is going on in Leclerc now: “It’s not easy to have this pace and this performance and to deal with it,” says the seven-time world champion. “It’s a tough job and I feel for the whole team.”

Alone: ​​Something is different than 2018. A new crown prince is currently not in sight. And so team boss Mattia Binotto is still firmly behind his ailing superstar: “Yes, it was a mistake by Charles,” he admits to the Italian, but emphasizes: “That can happen. He’s a great driver.”

Teammate Carlos Sainz also jumps to Leclerc’s side. “What happened to him can happen to anyone, including me or Max, because we’re always driving at the limit and pushing. I’m sure he’ll recover from it.”

Already at the Hungarian GP this weekend in Budapest, Leclerc can prove how strong he is mentally. If he doesn’t, the scenario from 2018 threatens to repeat itself. At that time, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes made fewer strategic, technical and driving errors. This time Red Bull and Max Verstappen do the more solid job. But the season is only halfway through.

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