Alfa Romeo Formula 1 boss Frederic Vasseur believes Charles Leclerc’s self-confidence and self-criticism are the main traits that make him a “champion”.
Leclerc enjoyed a stellar second F1 season in 2019 and outperformed team-mate Sebastian Vettel by winning two races to the German’s one, and Leclerc’s seven pole positions proved to be the highest tally of any driver last year.
Leclerc also made some costly mistakes – notably in Azerbaijan and Germany, pictured below – which he later owned up to.
Vasseur, who was Leclerc’s team boss in 2018, believes Leclerc has shown traits that make the 22-year-old a champion.
“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.
“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 ‘OK, 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.”
Vasseur added he was delighted for the Ferrari driver, who he reckons deserves his success “200%”.
“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,” said Vasseur.
“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.”