Damon Hill believes that Charles Leclerc is lacking the confidence that Max Verstappen has possessed since he entered F1 as a teenager. Despite Ferrari enjoying a strong start to the 2022 season, Leclerc's championship hopes have dwindled as the year has progressed, with Verstappen now 116 points ahead of the Monegasque at the top of the standings. Former Scuderia boss Jean Todt – whose son, Nicolas, is Leclerc's manager – recently suggested in an interview with Italian publication Gazetta dello Sport that the 24-year-old driver "still lacks something". In terms of what this could be, Hill thinks that Leclerc's "anxiety" differs greatly to Verstappen's approach.
Hill sets out difference between Leclerc and Verstappen
"I think it is that sense of confidence that Max has [that Leclerc lacks]," Hill told the F1 Nation podcast. "The first time we interviewed [Verstappen], he came on Sky [Sports] and [he was a] 17-year-old guy, and he just knew how to handle himself. He just had so much confidence. It was utterly unbelievable for a 17-year-old. "Charles is a very charming, intelligent kid, but he's anxious. He's got an anxiety there." Hill believes that Leclerc's tendency to admit to mistakes differs from some other drivers. "The first time I heard him say, 'I'm really sorry, guys, that was all my fault', I just thought, 'I can't imagine Michael Schumacher saying that ever!'" the 1996 World Champion added.
Verstappen "perfectly adapted" to cope with pressure
Verstappen could arguably be feeling a sense of pressure now that his chances of winning the World Championship are increasing; on paper, there is a possibility that the Dutchman could clinch his second title at the Singapore Grand Prix. Despite this, Hill does not expect this to add any extra weight to the Red Bull driver's shoulders. "If you ask him a question about [if he is] worried about something, he goes, 'No, I don't think it's a problem, it'll work out, it'll be what it is'," Hill said. "His philosophy is perfectly adapted now to coping with the pressure of Formula 1. You can put it out of your mind – that is the tactic. That is what every sportsman has to do. "You cannot get ahead of yourself. You've got to do the job you're there to do, and he reiterates that every time you interview him. "Also he's got the [first] one in the bag. If it was his first [title], then there would be some tension, I think."