Irvine: Verstappen like Schumacher, but Leclerc a better driver

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Ex-F1 driver Eddie Irvine says Max Verstappen's pace and consistency reminds him of his former Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher, and yet the Northern Irishman sees Charles Leclerc as the better driver.

Leclerc leads Verstappen two wins to one after the first three races of 2022. But a pair of retirements have cost the Red Bull driver a massive amount of points in the Drivers' standings.

But despite Verstappen's 46-point deficit, pundits believe the battle for the world title will equate to a shootout between the latter and Leclerc.

Watching from afar from his sunny retreat in the Bahamas, Irvine doesn’t see anyone faster than Verstappen. And yet the four-time Grand Prix winner reckons that Leclerc remains the better driver.

"I don't believe anyone is faster than Verstappen, but he still makes a lot of mistakes," Irvine told Italy's La Gazzetto dello Sport. "Leclerc doesn't do that."

However, it was pointed out to Irvine that Leclerc's track record in F1 when it comes to crashes or mishaps is hardly unblemished, with high-profile wrecks in qualifying in Monaco in 2021 or in Baku in 2019 coming to mind.

"Having such an incident in qualifying is generally not so relevant," Irvine explained. "Verstappen makes the mistake of always letting himself be carried away in terms of aggressiveness.

"[Leclerc] is very intelligent, has a personality, and is mature. [In] that way Verstappen seems a bit 'younger' to me mentally, but he has been given a lot of talent.

"Leclerc and Verstappen are both very strong. [Lewis] Hamilton is also exceptional, even though I don't think he has the same speed as Verstappen.

"Max reminds me of [Michael] Schumacher. He can keep a great race pace and no one who is driving in the same car comes near him."


Irvine says it's too early to risk a call on who will win the title in 2022. But the former racer believes Leclerc, despite his comfortable lead in the championship, will have his work cut out this season.

"It's too early to say and every year that goes by it gets more difficult," said the 56-year-old Irvine.

"You have to compete against Red Bull, Verstappen, and Adrian Newey. That is very difficult."

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