Red Bull driver Max Verstappen is unlikely to be happy after his manager’s recent comments on his rival, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque rider posed a threat to Verstappen early in the season before the Dutchman built up a strong lead on his way to the 2022 world title, and Leclerc has now dropped to third and is below Verstappen’s team-mate Sergio Perez.
eclerc bemoaned a series of errors from his team early in the year which could have put him closer to Verstappen and put up a stronger challenge to the 25-year-old. The Ferrari man has gained many admirers this season, including one seemingly from Verstappen’s camp.
Verstappen’s manager Raymond Vermeulen believes Leclerc is equally as talented as the driver he represents, and thinks he will also win a championship. “A lot of the mistakes that happened to both Ferrari drivers was because they seem to have quite a loose rear, that’s a little bit unpredictable,” Vermeulen told the F1 Nation podcast.
“And then obviously, if you’re already a little bit on the backfoot, you push that just extra couple of per cent more, and you’re driving closer at the limit, then it’s obviously easy to make a mistake. It’s easy to finger point, but I think if he has the right package, Charles is definitely also a future Formula 1 World Champion, if he has the car that he requires to do [so.]
“I think Charles is equally talented. I mean that some of his pole position laps that he put together this year were just unbelievable. I also think he has the race craft, but if you have bigger tyre degradation during the race, there’s not much that you can do as a driver. Ultimately, you need a car that performs over one and a half hours, and Charles didn’t have this for most of the races.”
Leclerc will be attempting to avoid a Red Bull one-two and finish above Perez this season, then will begin next year aiming to prevent a three-peat from Verstappen. The driver from Monaco claims that race-day performance needs to improve at Ferrari, and explained how he will try to get the better of the Dutchman in 2023.
“We need to focus on ourselves,” Leclerc said. “[We must] try to execute well the Sundays because performance is not what we lacked this year.
“If we look from the first race to now, we’ve always been strong and the performance was always good enough to actually fight for wins apart from some offs, but there aren’t many.
“It’s mostly about trying to put everything together come the Sunday – strategy, tyre management. That’s what we are focusing on at the moment. And this is the step that we’ll have to do next year in order to fight for the championship.”