Former F1 racer David Coulthard says life is easier for Charles Leclerc at Ferrari than it is for his team mate Sebastian Vettel because expectations for the two drivers differ.
So far this season Ferrari has fallen under the rule of arch-rival Mercedes which has strung together a flawless series of five consecutive one-two finishes.
Ferrari has edged the Silver Arrows on occasion, in practice sessions but also in qualifying in Bahrain where Leclerc and Vettel led the grid.
That performance, and Leclerc’s subsequent domination of the race up until an engine issues sidelined the Monegasque, have led many to believe that the young Scuderia charger will eventually overhaul Vettel as the de facto leader of the Italian squad.
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Coulthard outlined however the very different mindset that likely inhabits each driver.
“Charles does what he has to do,” the Dvot told Auto Bild. “He wants to be faster. If he sees a gap, he gets in.
“Sebastian has another goal: to make the Ferrari a winning car. So here we are dealing with two different types of pressure.
“Seb has to win, eanything else isn’t good enough. Charles has it easier. He just has to be faster than Sebastian and prove that he can beat a four-time world champion and has a great future.
“Sebastian had a stress-free phase with Kimi [Raikkonen], but Ferrari would have been to keep Kimi.
“Charles provides emotions, and that’s what Ferrari stands for in its history,” added the 13-time Grand Prix winner.
“We all want the tough team mate battles. Like Senna with Prost, like Lewis with Nico, and now Charles with Seb.
“Take a look at Red Bull this season. Max Verstappen gets zero pressure from Pierre Gasly, who hasn’t delivered yet. This is not good.”
Despite Mercedes’ current supremacy, Coulthard believes the House of Maranello can still turn around its season.
“They have very good people, they have the budget for that. But the problem is that Mercedes does such a fantastic job.”
The former McLaren driver doesn’t believe however that Leclerc’s rise at the Scuderia will entice Vettel to throw in the towel at the end of the season and leave F1.
“Sure, Sebastian isn’t getting any younger, but he’s still a great champion, he is still very fast,” said the 48-year-old.
“Although Charles may be the future of Formula 1 with Max Verstappen, he is not faster than Sebastian. That’s a fact.
“As I said, Sebastian has more pressure and he knows that too. Sebastian has to win the world championship, Charles just has to be better than Sebastian.
“Of course that’s a lot easier. But I’m convinced Sebastian can handle it.”
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