Former FIA president and Ferrari general manager Jean Todt has admitted that current Scuderia driver Charles Leclerc “lacks something”, which is affecting his attempt at becoming a World Champion.
Todt is arguably one of the most famous members of the Formula 1 paddock that isn’t a driver, after the Frenchman occupied the role of Ferrari general manager from 1994-2009, before becoming FIA president from 2009 until December 2021.
Todt was an unbelievable winner and played a crucial role in Michael Schumacher’s five-year domination, from 2000-2004.
The seven-time World Champion won five consecutive Drivers’ Championships, whilst under the leadership of Todt.
The Frenchman recently spoke about Leclerc at the Festival of Sport in Trento, northern Italy, where he gave a short explanation as to why Leclerc hasn’t yet gone on to become a World Champion.
“Charles is already a great champion,” said Todt, quoted by Gazzetta dello Sport.
“He still lacks something, I hope he has it soon.”
The Monegasque, whose manager is Todt’s son, has failed to truly challenge Max Verstappen for the title this season, despite having won two of the opening three races.
A number of reliability issues, strategic and driver errors have seen Leclerc slip to 116 points behind the Dutchman, who could wrap up his second consecutive championship at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Leclerc’s most notable errors came whilst leading the French Grand Prix, where he crashed out, and the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix earlier in the season whilst closing down Sergio Pérez for second place.
Despite being pushed to answer whether it’s Ferrari who are lacking or Leclerc, Todt simply resaid his earlier comment.
“He lacks something…” Todt asserted.
Ferrari have also played an enormous part in Leclerc’s disappointing season, which started so promisingly.
Todt highlighted that the Maranello-based team have “missed certain opportunities” and that the team must “reflect” on their errors to ensure they never happen again.
“Ferrari at one point had the best car in the championship,” he said.
“Then they missed certain opportunities – I’m thinking of strategy, a Safety Car that came in at the wrong time, reliability problems. Different episodes had a cost.
“We have to reflect on this to avoid them happening again. Never leave anything to chance. And if you manage to leave nothing taken for granted, all the ingredients are there to be champions.”
The former FIA president was also asked to compare Verstappen to Mick Schumacher’s father, with the Dutchman set to claim another title either in Singapore or Japan.
Todt continues to be extremely close to the seven-time World Champion, with the Frenchman having been by the German’s side during a lot of his recovery from his saddening ski accident.
Schumacher and Todt had an unbelievable relationship, whereas the Frenchman hardly knows Verstappen.
Todt was therefore unable to truly compare the two but did explain that both drive “very aggressively”.
“I know Michael very well, but not Max,” said Todt.
“Max, like Michael, is very determined, very aggressive.
“Michael off the track is a wonderful person. About Max, I don’t know, I can’t say. Now I see him all focused on racing, rightly so.
“Then of course, they both had great cars. Because to win, every driver, no matter how exceptional, needs a competitive car.”