Villeneuve sees Vettel 2020 without a chance against Leclerc – “It’s a law in this sport.”
Within the Ferrari team Charles Leclerc seems to be slowly gaining the upper hand against Sebastian Vettel. The Monegasque is regarded as the upcoming world champion by many, while Vettel’s star is slowly sinking. Leclerc made headlines with his wins at Spa and Monza and has defeated Vettel in every qualifying session since Canada.
In his first Ferrari year he is already 21 points ahead of the four-time World Champion. And if former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve is to be believed, the duel in 2020 will be even more in favour of the youngster. Vettel has no chance: “No, because the energy isn’t right,” the Canadian told “Motorsport-Total.com”.
But that’s less due to Vettel himself than to the energy around him. “Everyone wants Leclerc, Leclerc, Leclerc. The media, the fans … And there’s nothing you can do about it,” says Villeneuve. “It doesn’t matter how well you drive. You’re on the wrong side of energy. And if that’s the case then you suffer for a while. That’s a law in this sport.”
At the latest since the two races after the summer break, Leclerc has been the new favourite of Ferrari fans. In Belgium he clinched Ferrari’s long-awaited first victory of the season and in Monza a week later the even longer-awaited home win in Italy – something Vettel hadn’t managed in all his time at the Scuderia.
The descent of the four-time World Champion began a year ago at the Hockenheim race. Leading the field, the German threw his Ferrari into the gravel and seemed to be in a negative spiral ever since. For more than a year after the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix Vettel had to wait for a victory – and that came in Singapore thanks to a controversial undercut against Leclerc.
Villeneuve can well imagine that Hockenheim Vettel plunged into the crisis at the time: “Of course, because you’re making a mistake and you know you’re to blame. That probably changed the whole championship – psychologically too,” he says.
The same thing happened a year earlier in Singapore when there was a collision with team mates Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen at the start. “All the media and fans are talking about it, so you feel the pressure. Of course it has an impact,” Villeneuve said.
But some suggested that the SF90 concept, in particular, would not fit Vettel, so he would be left behind against Leclerc. But Villeneuve waves: “It has nothing to do with the concept of the car. The car was designed together with the feedback of the drivers who drove before”. And these were Vettel and Räikkönen – not Leclerc. “So he has his share in the design of this car.”