Scuderia Ferrari endured a miserable campaign in 2019, losing the championship battle to Mercedes yet again. Even though they had high calibre drivers like Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, they fell by the wayside.
Now, former F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve has a theory behind Ferrari’s fall from grace. In fact, he has pinned the blame on Charles Leclerc and his attitude towards the team. He believes that Leclerc’s determination to prove that he is the future of Ferrari, hurt them in this year’s campaign.
The Monegasque driver was recruited by Ferrari ahead of the 2019 season alongside Vettel. At the time, the Italian marquee insisted that Vettel would be the “priority” driver.
However, two races later, Charles Leclerc defied Ferrari team orders and overtook Vettel in Bahrain despite being told to maintain position.
As the season progressed, Ferrari’s defenses chipped away, bit by bit, as the rivalry intensified. By then, summer break came and went and Ferrari added three wins under their belt. However, since they woke up late, it was too late for the Italian team to catch up.
According to Villeneuve to Formule1, “Ferrari fell apart this year. A lot depends on your two drivers, and the chemistry within the team just was not in balance.”
“Ferrari never said to Leclerc: ‘It’s your first year with us, your second year in F1. Relax, learn from Vettel.’ Then the team would have moved further forward than now.”
“Instead, from the first race, Leclerc has had the attitude of ‘I’m going to show that I’m the boss and that Vettel is past. I am the future.”
The Canadian also noted that the tifosi viewed Charles Leclerc as a Messiah and the media lapped it all up. Naturally, with Leclerc being hailed as a godsend, it massively dented Vettel’s mojo. However, for all the praise and expectations, Charles Leclerc simply wasn’t ready for that role.
Villeneuve insisted that Leclerc’s objective was pole positions and sometimes for victories. However, he didn’t see the bigger picture, namely the Formula One World championship.
He concluded, “So this whole situation has damaged Ferrari. I don’t know what Mattia Binotto could do about that.”
“I do not know the agreements, in the days of Irvine and Barrichello this was simply established. How does this work? Who will say?”