Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has said his close friend, the late Jules Bianchi, was more deserving of the seat at the Italian team.
The young Frenchman, who sadly lost his life following a tragic accident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, is the most recent driver to pass away from injuries sustained during a race weekend, since the death of Brazilian Ayrton Senna at Imola in 1994.
Renault F1 Team‘s Daniel Ricciardo included Bianchi on a list on his most underrated rivals, speculating he would have become as much as a talent as Leclerc now is, if he had got the opportunity.
“It’s another part of what makes his story so sad, because [Bianchi] would have been in a top team and a race winner by now for sure,” the Australian is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.
“In some ways, I feel Charles is doing now what Jules would have been doing. It’s like Charles is the delayed version of what Jules would have done with the success he’s having.”
Leclerc and Bianchi shared a close friendship; Bianchi was the godfather of Leclerc, and also his racing mentor. Both men were managed by Nicolas Todt.
Leclerc agreed with Ricciardo, saying that Bianchi would have had an exceptional career with Ferrari.
“Jules had shown what he had to show in F1, and there was definitely a lot more to come,” he said.
“But I think results like [scoring points] in Monaco, when he was in Marussia, were telling a lot about his talent.
“So he definitely deserved the F1 seat, the Ferrari seat, probably even more than I did. But [fate] decided something other for him unfortunately. But I’m pretty sure he would have shown probably even more than what I do and yeah, he was extremely talented,” said Leclerc.
He also noticed the similarities between their journeys to reach Formula 1, exemplified through their fathers’ friendship.
“I think our fathers, the father of Jules and my father, always joked that we had a very similar career.
“And strangely also when he [Bianchi] was racing and I was racing, if he had a very bad race that weekend, the same weekend, I will have a very bad race too.”