Charles Leclerc’s self-confidence and self-criticism are behind what makes him a “champion”, believes Alfa Romeo Formula 1 boss Frederic Vasseur.
Leclerc was thrust into the spotlight last season as he made the step up to Ferrari, partnering four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel at the Italian team.
Over the course of the year, Leclerc often eclipsed Vettel on raw speed, winning two races to the German’s one to finish one place ahead of him in the drivers’ standings.
Vasseur, who oversaw the Monegasque’s debut season in 2018, points out Leclerc’s ability to admit to mistakes is something “only champions” have in them.
“I think it’s one of the characteristics of Charles, but mainly of champions, [to be] very, very self-confident in the car, and they can sometimes be able to do things coming from the moon because they have a huge self-confidence,” Vasseur said, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“And this self-confidence allows them, when they are out of the car, to have self-criticism, to blame themselves, because they know perfectly that they have the potential, they are a champion, and they can say ‘okay, I had a poor drive today.’
“And it’s only a champion who is able to say something like this. On paper they are better than the others, but he’s able to blame himself – ‘OK, forget the session, I had a poor drive.
“And it’s good for the team because when it’s not the case, they could bring you in the wrong direction.”
Leclerc recently pledged his long-term future to Ferrari by signing a contract extension through to the end of the 2024 season.
In his sophomore year in the sport, the 22-year-old finished with more pole positions [seven] than his rivals in 2019, and Vasseur says Leclerc is deserving of his success.
“I’m pleased for him because he did a great season that could have been perhaps a bit better without Bahrain and other races, but he did a great job,” he added.
“He’s got incredible pace in qualifying, this is quite impressive. I’m more than happy for him because for me he deserves it 200%. He’s the only one that I keep an eye on.”