Charles Leclerc told the one thing he needs to change to beat Max Verstappen to the title

Charles Leclerc will be “the real deal” if he can overcome his penchant for making mistakes under pressure, according to David Coulthard.

After winning two of the first three races of the year, Leclerc emerged as the main stumbling block in Max Verstappen’s title defence. But since then things have generally gone the Red Bull star’s way.

The Monegasque has not been helped by his team either. Ferrari have made several high-profile strategy blunders, most recently at the Hungarian Grand Prix where Leclerc’s tyre plan was botched, while the Italian team have also had to contend with unreliable power units with several blowouts during races.

But Leclerc must shoulder some of the blame himself. A negligent spin at Imola cost him the chance to snatch a handful of points from Verstappen, but a crash while leading the French Grand Prix proved more costly and opened the door for the Dutchman to move 25 points further clear.

The gap is 80 after the first 13 races – and no racer in F1 history has ever overcome such a deficit to win the championship. For Leclerc the 2022 title has all but slipped through his fingers, but Coulthard believes he can be right in the mix again going forward if he can cut out the errors.

“Go back to Azerbaijan [qualifying in 2019] in the Ferrari, he popped it into the wall at the chicane and said ‘I’m so stupid, I’m so stupid’. He’s not stupid, he’s a brilliantly fast racing driver,” said the Scot. “But he’s still maturing in front of the public eye.






David Coulthard insisted Leclerc can become 'the real deal'


David Coulthard insisted Leclerc can become ‘the real deal’
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REUTERS)

“He’s under the biggest pressure in Formula 1, that’s representing Ferrari. It’s more than a racing company, it’s a country, it’s a worldwide Tifosi. Once he’s ironed out those little errors – and let’s remind ourselves Max Verstappen made errors like that in his early career – he will be the real deal.”

Despite his own blunders, the 24-year-old has been praised for his complete honesty in shouldering responsibility. His Ferrari predecessor Michael Schumacher was not always so willing to accept blame for any incidents, but Leclerc prefers not to emulate the seven-time world champion in this regard.

“It’s part of the experience – it’s part of the path of anybody in whatever work you do. At one point, a mistake will happen,” he said. “I really don’t see the point of hiding it. And sometimes it is so obvious to everybody that the mistake comes from driver, I just don’t understand the drivers that are trying to have excuses with the wind or whatsoever.”

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