Charles Leclerc head down disappointed. Imola April 2022

“Charles Leclerc is a better bet for the 2023 F1 title than Lewis Hamilton, George Russell”

A respected Formula 1 watcher believes Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc is a better bet to be crowned world champion in 2023 than Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

With a record 15 wins in a single season, Max Verstappen won his second title in 2022, but the Red Bull driver is set to face a tougher challenge this year.

Leclerc, who was eventually forced to settle for second place in 2022 despite a 46-point lead over Verstappen after three races, is expected to lead Ferrari’s charge ahead of team-mate Carlos Sainz under new team principal Frédéric. Vasseur, while Mercedes is ready. to fight back after being limited to just one win last season.

Speaking via his Twitch streamformer Williams and Ferrari team principal Peter Windsor sees Verstappen as strong favorite to make it three in a row in 2023 but sees more room for improvement at Ferrari and Mercedes as F1 enters second ground effect regulation season.

He said, “As far as how [Ferrari] will go in 2023, I’m not sure if it’s in the hands of Charles Leclerc or Freddy Vasseur. It’s in the hands, ultimately, of the technical team.

“No matter what the new coach may say, ‘we all have to work hard, we have to focus on this, we have to do this, we have to do that’, ultimately it comes down to talent and it comes down to intelligence. .

“It’s not a question of resources, it’s not a question of money. It comes down to talent and smarts, which is why Red Bull is as good as them because it’s Adrian Newey’s design team that ultimately creates this car.

“So what quality of car will Ferrari’s technical department create in 2023 based on what they had in 22 and bearing in mind that the regulatory changes are relatively small and we are now fixed on the power units?The logical thing to say is that Ferrari will probably be a little closer to Red Bull.

“Red Bull is pretty close to the ceiling [of the regulations] and Ferrari and Mercedes are going to get closer to Red Bull because Red Bull doesn’t have many more options to play with. They are about the limit of what you can do in these regulations. That’s how I see it.

“So I think it will be more competitive. I can’t imagine that in a million years Ferrari will have better motor racing than Red Bull, but I think it will be a car that will be fully capable of winning races. recommends

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“How many races? I guess six, maybe Sainz will win a few. But I would be surprised if they won more than six because I think Mercedes will also win races, more races. So I think they’ll have a really good year and it’ll be fun to watch.

“If you wanted an outside bet, I guess ‘Charles Leclerc will be world champion’ isn’t a bad bet to have.

“I would put more money on that than I would on Lewis – or George for that matter. But I think right now it would be weird not to think about Max winning again.

Vasseur’s appointment as team principal – the fifth man to hold the position since Ferrari’s last Drivers’ Championship victory in 2007 – was one of the biggest stories of the winter break following the resignation of Mattia Binotto.

Windsor believes Binotto’s regime was guilty of gravitating too much to Sainz, with the arrival of Vasseur – a longtime ally of Leclerc – set to benefit Monaco’s title aspirations.

He added: “I think the relationship between Carlos and Charles was slightly unbalanced when Binotto was there because he just leaned towards Sainz. He just liked the way Carlos was, he listened to Carlos.

“When Carlos said, ‘this car has low-speed understeer’ and Charles said, ‘yes, but you can work around that and really we don’t want to hurt traction by improving the front end’, in this situation my understanding is that Binotto would favor Carlos Sainz’s solution.

“I don’t think that will happen anymore. I think now it’s going to be “well, that’s the most logical thing” and in his mind, even if he never says it, Fred Vasseur will know that Charles Leclerc is a serious racing driver.

“He knows what he’s doing and he’ll have the advantage over Sainz in the under-pressure moments at the end of Q3 or in variable and changing conditions during the race – fuel load, tire punctures, whatever. ” This is when Charles will always be the class act.

“Lap after lap, new set of soft tires in Q2, Carlos Sainz will be there with Charles Leclerc when there is no pressure.

“But when the pressure is on or when the car is suddenly hard to drive, that’s when Charles Leclerc – like Lewis Hamilton, like Max Verstappen – will come into its own with his slightly wider toolkit.

“That’s something Freddy will be aware of because he’s a brilliant guy.

“I think he’s smart enough to know that if he’s going to win a world championship in 2023, it’s more likely to be Charles Leclerc who wins the championship for him.

“It’s just a matter of letting him relax and get the best out of the car and the best out of the team at some point. This is what Fred will be very good at doing and what Mattia probably never did. He had probably never thought that way and Charles could probably feel it.

“I would say it was 50:50 [between Leclerc and Sainz] in terms of absolute mechanical readiness, but in terms of subtleties and nuances, and perhaps strategic calls, maybe it’s 51:49 now in favor of Charles Leclerc.

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