Former Ferrari strategist Ross Brawn has admitted that Charles Leclerc took everyone by surprise. This was especially when he posed a massive threat to team-mate Sebastian Vettel in 2019. The 22-year-old has merged seamlessly to life in Scuderia Ferrari, one of the sport’s top teams.
He certainly gave Ferrari its money’s worth with his excellent performances. In other words, he snatched seven pole positions, two race wins and 10 podium finishes, finishing fourth in the Championship.
Only Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen were more impressive than Leclerc, who trumped the achievements of Ferrari team-mate Vettel. Needless to say, Ross Brawn is officially a Charles Leclerc fan. He confessed that the Monegasque’s ability came as something of a shock.
“I think everyone was pleasantly surprised with how quickly Charles Leclerc became a problem for Sebastian Vettel last year,” Brawn, told the official Formula 1 magazine.
“He’d had an ideal initiaton in F1, with a slightly lower profile involvement with Sauber. But there were lots of signs of how good he was when he was with them.”
Ferrari are aware that they have the next big thing in Formula One and promptly handed him a fresh long-term contract. So, Ferrari have sunk their claws into their star’s shoulders until at least 2024.
Interestingly, team principal Mattia Binotto made a confession about the Sebastian Vettel-Charles Leclerc intra-team battle. However he did admit that the two must put aside personal egos and place the team’s priorities first.
“What happened last year was important for both of them,” Binotto said. “We discussed and had some clarity as to what I’m expecting.
“The team interest is the top priority, and the constructors’ championship is a key element. They are free to race, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still apply team orders in the interests of the team. But if the team is doing well, the drivers get the benefit of it.”
Leclerc, Vettel and Ferrari will kick-start their 2020 campaign hopefully in Azerbaijan in June. This is especially considering that the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the first seven races of the year.