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Charles Leclerc

Verstappen's unintentional career advice for Leclerc

Charles Leclerc finds himself in a similar position to Max Verstappen during the Lewis Hamilton heyday, with the World Champion imparting some advice.

One of the fastest drivers on the Formula 1 grid is struggling.

The absolute, underlying raw talent is there in spades and perhaps there is no-one quicker over one lap, but the equipment underneath this driver is not quite there to give him a chance of fighting the top dog and taking the world title.

As he comes to terms with that, he is making mistakes and on occasion, has thrown the car into the barrier.

Frustration is growing as the World Champion continues to rack up poles and wins.

The situation where Max Verstappen found himself against Lewis Hamilton in 2018 is now where Leclerc finds himself against Verstappen in 2023.

Verstappen endured a miserable start to 2018, spinning or making contact with someone or something at the first six races of the year.

A subdued weekend in Canada and third place calmed his form, and since that day in June 2018, Verstappen has been uber-consistent, largely avoiding contact and reaped his rewards as he has taken Hamilton's crown as the man to beat.

As for Leclerc, he is currently experiencing the same growing pains as Verstappen did, even if this is the Monegasque's sixth season in F1 compared to Verstappen's fourth in 2018.

25 podiums, 19 pole positions are both respectable hauls from 108 entries, as of the 2023 Miami Grand Prix.

But just five Grand Prix victories is a meagre return with the fact that Verstappen has more wins from Leclerc poles than Leclerc does being particularly damning.

And it won't get better for Leclerc anytime soon given the massive step forward Red Bull have taken in 2023, compared to the one taken by the good ship Maranello.

"I want to win, and I want it to be in red," Leclerc recently explained to The Athletic.

"This is clear, and I am not happy about the performance we’ve been giving in the last few years, it’s not been so consistent.

"There was quite a lot of expectation for this year, and at the end, we are seeing that we’re not as competitive as what we want."

It is a similar situation to what Verstappen found himself in, and as the now two-time World Champion explains, patience is key.

Patience is key

"You have to be patient, I think I learned a lot of patience over the years," Verstappen recently told media, including RacingNews365.

"I always believed in the project because of how I saw people working and how motivated they were to really get back on top.

"You cannot force it, and say: 'We were the third best team at some point and it's like we need to win now'

"It is a process, you get a few people, maybe different positions, get a good group together and at some point, it just clicked from one year to the next, and you really make a jump forward.

"After that, you say: 'Yeah, I saw it coming blah blah blah, [but] you don't know. I did trust the process we were in because I did feel that we were heading into something.

"But we had a few years with engine deals falling part, and it was just a bit of a struggle, sometimes we had quite a decent package, but then you lack a bit of top speed and that made it very hard to really show the true potential.

"When Honda came along, it was a bit of a work in progress, but then after a year, we were very competitive.

"It is not easy [to be patient] but sometimes you just have to be."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Does Leclerc have the patience?

Much the same patience Leclerc must now exercise. The difference with Verstappen? In year five of his tenure at Red Bull, the Dutchman seemed to have himself under control, whereas now the Ferrari big man still messes up at times. Just think of those two crashes in Miami. Is that because he over-drives?

However, Verstappen knows that is precisely something to avoid. It's a process and just like Verstappen at Red Bull in the period from 2016 - 2020, that process is in full swing for Leclerc at the Italian formation as well. And Max knows it won't be solved overnight.

It is the same patience Leclerc must now exercise as Ferrari embarks on its latest rebuilding process under boss Frederic Vasseur.

However, it is a wildly different situation than Verstappen found himself in.

Back when Red Bull were fighting for the Mercedes leftovers, Christian Horner used the time to sharpen his race team operationally, put key technical people where they needed to be and let the team develop.

But Ferrari is a far cry from that: it has a new team boss, currently undergoing a brain drain as Mattia Binotto, David Sanchez and Laurent Mekies have either left or announced plans to do so, and immense pressure from the very top to succeed.

The ingredients were all there for Verstappen and Horner who just needed to somehow put them all together to spoil the Mercedes pudding.

As for Leclerc, Ferrari must go shopping, find the right ingredients and figure out what goes best with what to create the perfect recipe.

In time, they will get it spot on but once the years start coming, they don't stop coming. 10 years without a title soon turns into 15 and then 15 into 20.

Ferrari have tried to win the title with the established superstars of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel - and failed for various reasons, some driver and some team related.

Their future is in the hands of the young prodigy who can be the man to topple the current Red Bull empire. After all, as Mercedes proved, all empires fall in the end.

Leclerc has all the talent to become World Champion - and as Verstappen proved, his time will come.

After all, without the pain, the success will never come.

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