Charles Leclerc told he isn’t even a ‘top three’ driver

Ferrari racer Charles Leclerc has been warned he isn't a top three driver on the current Formula 1 grid.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Pedro de la Rosa doesn’t think Charles Leclerc is currently a “top three” driver, with the Spaniard putting Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton ahead of the Monegasque.

The comment arose whilst discussing who would challenge Verstappen at Red Bull, if Sergio Perez wasn’t there.

Hamilton recently insisted ahead of the Italian Grand Prix last weekend that Verstappen’s team-mates haven’t been as strong as his, suggesting that nobody has ever pushed the Dutchman in the same team.

Perez is seen by many as the team-mate which has challenged Verstappen the most, yet even the Mexican has been destroyed by the 25-year-old.

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Since the start of 2022, Perez has won four races, whereas Verstappen has won 27.

Verstappen has been superior over Perez in every way, with the Mexican also having a tendency to endure the occasional poor run of form.

That simply doesn’t happen to the Dutchman, who has finished no lower than second all season.

In De la Rosa’s eyes, Hamilton and Alonso are the only drivers which could challenge Verstappen if they drove for Red Bull, with the Spaniard labelling them as the “top three” in the sport.

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“If you put Lewis or Fernando Alonso in that car, it wouldn’t be easy. It wouldn’t be easy to say that Max would beat them,” de la Rosa told the F1 Nation podcast.

“It would be very, very challenging for Max and for Fernando and for Lewis because I consider them to be the best three drivers in the grid. It would be done to the details.”

De la Rosa chooses the likes of Alonso and Hamilton over the likes of Lando Norris and George Russell because they’re the “most consistent drivers” in the current era of the sport.

As for Leclerc, the Spaniard recognises that he’s “fantastic”, but thinks he needs a few more years to really prove himself.

“I could have put Lando Norris there, [George] Russell as well, I think that they are all outstanding drivers don’t get me wrong,” De la Rosa said.

“But I’m just looking at the most consistent drivers in an era. And those have to be Max, Lewis, Fernando.

“It doesn’t matter what compound, what cars they’re driving, what teammates they have, what circuits they’re driving, they’re always there, they’re always delivering something special.

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“It doesn’t matter if they’re fighting for victories or, like in Fernando’s case fighting for getting into the Q3 or getting the last point at Alpine, they are always outstanding.

“They’re always doing something different and special. That’s what makes me admire these drivers.

“Charles, he’s fantastic for sure. But only time will tell if he gets into this top three. And that’s something we will all know in the next few years.”