Charles Leclerc has said that comparisons made between himself and multiple Formula 1 world champions Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher fills him with confidence, but the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team driver is cautious not to let the praise have a negative effect on his performances.
Leclerc, who approaches his first home Grand Prix in Formula 1 – the first Monégasque driver to hold that honour in 24 years – this weekend, has enjoyed an impressive start to his career in the sport, taking successive points finishes in Azerbaijan and Spain, but acknowledges that he still has “a lot to learn”.
“Of course it’s a great honour to be associated with those names already,” Leclerc said, speaking to Swiss publication Blick.
“But I try to ignore this sort of thing because I still have a lot to learn in Formula 1.”
However, Leclerc admitted that he has been touched by the praise coming his way from four-time world champion and current advisor to the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team Alain Prost.
“That gives me a lot of confidence,” he added. “We’ve known each other for a long time because he has a house in the south of France.”
The reigning FIA Formula 2 champion’s recent performances have propelled him into the driver transfer market discussions as speculation whirls around Romain Grosjean‘s future at the Haas F1 Team. Given Leclerc’s close connection to Scuderia Ferrari as part of their academy, the 20-year-old may find himself closer to a seat with the senior squad should the plaudits continue to come his way.
But, for now, Leclerc is happy to continue his development with Sauber, suggesting that his quiet showings in Australia and Bahrain were proof that he is still settling in to the sport. He said that the gulf between Formula 1 and Formula 2 is “much bigger than you can imagine”, but did enjoy his tussle with Fernando Alonso in Spain as the McLaren F1 Team star searched for points. He quipped about Alonso’s time with Minardi in 2001, his rookie season.
“The more information you have about the car, the more confidence you get,” he noted.“Maybe that was missing in the first two races. You make mistakes.
“In addition, the jump from Formula 2 to Formula 1 is much bigger than you can imagine. The tyre management is a science in its own right. And when you fight with such an aggressive driver and a two-time world champion, you will learn twice as much as you do with most other drivers.
“And Fernando started at the back too, with Minardi!”