Jacques Villeneuve has questioned whether Charles Leclerc has what it takes to sustain a title challenge. The Ferrari driver had a strong start to the 2022 season and led the World Championship standings for several races. However, the lead changed hands after a strong run for Max Verstappen and Red Bull, while Leclerc and the Scuderia suffered reliability issues in Spain and Azerbaijan. There was also a pit-stop strategy problem in Monaco that caused Leclerc to slip from P1 to P4. At the Canadian Grand Prix, Leclerc was forced to start from P19 on the grid due to engine penalties, but worked his way up to fifth. He currently sits third in the championship standings, three points off Sergio Perez in second and 49 points away from leader Verstappen.
Villeneuve: Leclerc's recovery drive wasn't good enough
Despite Leclerc managing to progress through the field in Montreal, Villeneuve believes that the end result was not as good as it should have been. "When you're in a Ferrari, you should only have a Red Bull in front of you," Villeneuve told the F1 Nation podcast. "It's true. Before the race they took those penalties because it's Montreal and, in their mind, the worst they could finish was P4, having Perez still in the race. "They didn't, so that also shows how good Lewis [Hamilton] was, because he [was] actually ahead of a Ferrari. "There was also a Safety Car that allowed Charles to get close to the pack, and he finished fifth. It's a good salvaging of points, but it's not good enough. "They had a poor pit-stop, and got out behind four cars instead of ahead of them. Fighting to get those positions killed their tyres, and that's why they didn't get the Mercedes in the end."
Leclerc makes mistakes that he shouldn't, says Villeneuve
When asked what he has made of Leclerc during the 2022 season so far, Villeneuve voiced doubts about how the 24-year-old matches up in comparison to 2021 World Champion Verstappen. "He's super quick but, right now, he still makes a few little mistakes that he shouldn't," Villeneuve commented. "Imola, for example [where a spin cost him a podium finish]. Then he's not helped by the team, but that's the energy there they all have together. "Right now we know he's fast, he's aggressive. Is he a World Champion? Is he like Max? How is he under pressure when it's money time for the championship? That's what we still need to find out."
How Leclerc's one-lap pace matches up
Leclerc has often displayed strong pace over one lap, and has secured six pole positions so far in 2022. But when questioned on whether there is anybody else faster in this regard, Villeneuve said: "Probably! There always is the faster man, but the faster man is also dependent on his car and his set-up. "Just remember [Valtteri] Bottas, when he was getting all the poles instead of Lewis Hamilton. He was setting his car up to get those poles but then, in the race, he was killing his tyres. "So is it because he was the faster man, or was [he] setting the car up to do that?"