Verstappen's advice to Leclerc: 'You have to be patient'

(L to R): Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing and Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari at the end of year drivers' photograph. 20.11.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images
© XPB 

Max Verstappen has handed out some sage career advice to his Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc, telling the Monegasque that he just has to learn to be patient if he's to ultimately achieve championship success.

It sounds like an odd contribution from Verstappen, who has never knowingly looked all that patient at any point in his F1 career but who has instead always given the impression of a man very much in a hurry.

Now 25, Verstappen made his f1 debut with Toro Rosso in Australia aged just 18. The following year he received a call up from the senior Red Bull squad and scored his first Grand Prix win on his debut with the team in Spain.

But it proved hard work after that, with Mercedes' engine supremacy at the time meaning there there were only two further wins in both 2017 and 2018, three in 2019 and another two in 2020 - with titles looking far out of reach.

Verstappen remembers that period well, and while he didn't always look patient on the track while battling with his rivals, he says now that it proved to be the making of his mindset that yielded championships in 2021 and 2022.

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates with the team. 07.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Price / XPB Images

"You have to be patient," he told the media this month. "I think I learned a lot of patience over the years," he said, adding that he'd always had faith that he - and Red Bull as a whole - would eventually make it to the summit.

"I always believed in the project because of how I saw people working and how motivated they were to really get back on top," he noted. "You can't force it and say, 'We were the third best team at some point and it's like we need to win now'.

"It is a process. You get a few people, maybe different positions, get a good group together. And at some point, it just clicks from one year to the next and you really make a jump forward.

"After that you say: 'Yeah, I saw it coming blah blah blah'"," he smiled. "[But] you don't know. I did trust the process we were in, because I did feel that we were heading into something.

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates winning the World Championship with the team. 09.10.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 18, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Race

"But we had a few years with engine deals falling part, and it was just a bit of a struggle," he said. "When Honda came along it was a bit of a work in progress, but then after a year we were very competitive.

"Sometimes we had quite a decent package but then you lack a bit of top speed and that made it very hard to really show the true potential," he said, adding that "it's not easy" to be patient "but sometimes you just have to be".

Whether he intended that advice to be heard by Leclerc is unknown, but the comparison between his own battles with Hamilton in 2018 and Leclerc's with Verstappen today certainly speaks to Leclerc's current situation at Ferrari.

Leclerc has been particularly criticised for allowing himself to become frustrated and impatient in qualifying and race situations, and to make rash mistakes on track resulting in costly accidents and crashes.

That's why Verstappen's elder statesman advice to be patient feels like it's directed at Leclerc - although it's also somewhat galling given that there is less than three weeks difference in age between the pair.

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari celebrates his pole position in qualifying parc ferme. 28.04.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku Street Circuit, Azerbaijan, Qualifying Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

Even less reassuring to Leclerc will be comments made earlier this week by the BBC’s F1 reporter Andrew Benson on the broadcaster's Chequered Flag podcast.

"[Leclerc] is doing great things in a car that’s not up to his ability," Benson commented. "There’s no prospects that he can see of them getting onto a level playing field with Red Bull.

"I think that’s probably the root of the disappointment that you’re seeing in him at the moment," he said. “At the moment, I think he’s thinking: ‘How is it ever going to happen?’

"He just genuinely loves Ferrari,” Benson added. "His career has been made by Ferrari picking him up from a very young boy. He wants to deliver that championship with them."

That's confirmed by comments made by Leclerc to US sports site The Athlete: "I want to win, and I want it to be in red."

Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF-23 on the grid.
07.05.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Miami Grand Prix, Miami, Florida, USA, Race Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Gilbert / XPB Images

Unfortunately Ferrari has a proven history of not managing to deliver championships in recent seasons, despite having the very best driver talent on tap.

After Kimi Raikkonen in 2007, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel pitched up at Maranello optimistic of adding further titles to cap glittering careers only to come away empty handed. Will Leclerc be the latest in that unfortunate line?

Should he find a new team, or should he - as Verstappen recommends - be patient and stick with it to see how Ferrari fares in the coming seasons in the hope of a breakthrough?

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