Years Before Their Rivalry, “More Mature” Charles Leclerc Was Given the Upper Hand Over Max Verstappen

Published 12/12/2022, 8:00 AM EST

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Years before Charles Leclerc suffered through the frustrating 2022 Formula 1 season, years before the Monegasque could even think about fighting for the championship against Max Verstappen, and even before he put on his red Ferrari suit, a former driver pitted the young Monegasque against Max Verstappen and put him on top.

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The former driver could have some bias, as it was Felipe Massa, an almost championship-winning Ferrari pilot. However, the Brazilian sang Leclerc’s praises when Ferrari announced him as a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen. Massa made some bold comments despite Max Verstappen’s advantage in Formula 1 experience.

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He said, “They did well. Besides the huge talent, he also has an incredible head on his shoulders. In my opinion, he is even more mature than Max Verstappen.”

Felipe Massa made this bold statement in 2018. By then Verstappen was already driving for Red Bull. Additionally, Verstappen already had three years’ worth of experience in the premier class compared to Leclerc’s one year of experience with Sauber (now Alfa Romeo).

The former Ferrari man also made a statement that did not age well. He said, “I am convinced that one day he will be able to become world champion. And together with Sebastian Vettel, they will push each other. Ferrari in 2019 will have a great driver pairing.”

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A lot has happened since Massa’s comments and not all accordingly. However, there is one statement the Brazilian made that most fans and Ferrari drivers can resonate with. Especially after the current championship season.

Felipe Massa reveals the pressures Charles Leclerc faces at Ferrari

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If we are to believe Massa, the pressure at Ferrari is immense. We all witnessed the pressure get to Leclerc and even his teammate Carlos Sainz on occasions during the 2022 season. Mattia Binotto also handed in his resignation following the horrendous season.

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This is where Massa’s statement stands completely true. “I talk from my own experience, having been there, at Maranello the pressure is nothing a driver will ever experience in any other team,” he said.

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Well, there you have it. This is the reason we see so much upheaval at Ferrari, as the stakes are extremely high. Let’s hope Leclerc can fulfill the Tifosi’s dreams by ending the championship drought.

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Written by:

Mahim Suhalka

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Mahim Suhalka is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. This Sports Management post-graduate is an ardent supporter of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team and their lead driver, Lewis Hamilton. The fact that Lewis dominated one of the most expensive sports in the world for all these years, despite his humble beginnings, has been a huge inspiration for Mahim and has made him a tenured fan of the competitive sport itself.
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Edited by:

Ranvijay Singh

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