Former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa recently spoke about Red Bull star, Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s rising talent, Charles Leclerc. The Brazilian was of the opinion that the Monegasque driver will win the world championship before the Dutchman.
With Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel approaching their mid-thirties, their younger rivals will be heralding a new crop of rising stars. Both Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen could be set to take up the mantle when Hamilton and Vettel eventually retire.
With five seasons under his belt, the Red Bull man is largely considered an experienced racer. On the other end of the spectrum, his Ferrari counterpart is just about wrapping up his second season in Formula One.
However, Massa believes that the cool and composed Leclerc can win the world championship before Verstappen.
“I met Charles when he was 13 and was chosen by Nicolas Todt (Massa’s manager) on the advice of Jules Bianchi who knew him well,” the current Formula E racer told Motorsport.com Italy.
“He is a very talented young man, but the thing that strikes me most is his head, his ability to manage pressure.
“I don’t know whether he’s faster than Verstappen, but the seven pole positions achieved in his first year with Ferrari say a lot.
“He made some mistakes, but I think we all have to consider his still limited experience in F1 and it was his first year in a top team.
“But he’s a future world champion, and I think we won’t have to wait long. I do not exclude that he can achieve that goal even before Verstappen.”
The 38-year old confessed that there are difficulties for a young driver in his first year with Ferrari. However, Massa was impressed by the fact that Charles Leclerc has held his own against Vettel.
“You have to be ready in a lot of ways,” said the Venturi driver. “You have to learn to handle the pressure from the media, the fans, and the one you put on yourself when you realize you are driving for Ferrari.”
“It’s not a simple thing, and Charles has handled this perfectly. He’s a nice guy, but… watch, he is smarter than he looks and this helps.”