Mattia Binotto has heaped praise on how Charles Leclerc has developed as a driver in F1 2020 and says he’s developing into a team leader for Ferrari in the years to come.

Leclerc has been one of F1’s star performers in 2020, scoring two podiums and consistently out-performing four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel.

With Vettel departing at the end of the season, the focus will be on Leclerc as he teams up with Carlos Sainz for 2021.

The main blemish on Leclerc’s season was a rare mistake on the final lap of the Turkish Grand Prix, where he ran wide at Turn 12 losing a spot on the podium in the process.

Reflecting on Leclerc’s drive in Turkey, Binotto said: “Probably, focusing on the race itself, as far as the quali, it has not been his best quali of the season. He made a mistake at the start, he made very, very few mistakes in driving in difficult conditions, only on the last corner. I think generally speaking it has been an outstanding race because he has been very fast and, as you said, he has recovered a lot of time in the race itself.

“The race has not been perfect because of the small mistake but considering the conditions, which were very, very difficult, he made a fantastic race and I think he has proved how strong he is in driving in difficult situations and difficult conditions, and how fast he can be. I think that Charles does not need to prove how fast he is; I think everyone knows how good he is, driving, quali, race, difficult conditions. I think in that respect again, very well done. Obviously, he was disappointed at the end of the race.”

Binotto credited Leclerc's improvement across the board in 2020 and how he's developed not only as a driver but as a leader as well. 

“We discussed, somehow, the radio comments but generally speaking, again, on the overall season, I think it has been an important season for him, very difficult from the competitiveness point of view of our car but I think that in terms of leader of the team, he is developing himself,” Binotto added.

“He is very supportive, he understands when it’s time to support the team when it’s time to push, when it’s time to somehow really improve. He’s aware that results of the future are somehow depending as well on his contribution. I think in that, he’s really a leader. Not only a driver, he developed himself quite a lot this season.

“On top of that, he learned a lot as well in terms of driving, managing the tyres, race pace, and I think that in terms of, certainly his ability to drive, he improved again, during the season itself. So, I’m pretty sure Charles will be a strong driver in the future. He’s already very strong but he will be even stronger – and certainly next year as well.”

 

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