Charles Leclerc may dream of replicating Michael Schumacher’s legacy at Ferrari, but he’s taking a completely different approach when it comes to admitting mistakes. The Monegasque driver has a package capable of challenging for world titles for the first time in his short career, but individual and team strategy errors have cost him in 2022 so far.
Schumacher won five of his record seven Drivers’ Championships consecutively at Ferrari from 2000 to 2004. But the German icon was notorious for refusing to admit when he had made an error, commonly getting away with delving into the ‘racing drivers’ book of excuses’ because of his undisputed excellence.
For Leclerc, it’s a contrasting approach. The 24-year-old believes there’s ‘no point’ in hiding mistakes and has admitted he ‘doesn’t understand’ why some drivers rush to make excuses because of how it stifles progression in the modern competitive environment of the sport.
He told BBC Sport: “I really don’t see the point of hiding it. And sometimes it is so obvious to everybody that the mistake comes from the driver. I just don’t understand the drivers that are trying to have excuses with the wind or whatsoever. I mean, sometimes it can happen. One out of 200 crashes, you’ll get something very strange happens.
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“But I just don’t like to lose time with finding excuses because that’s exactly when you start to lose time, and you just don’t go forward. This is also good for the people that are working around me because they know that whenever I’m going to make a mistake, I’m gonna be very honest, and I hope that is going to be the same for them. So then everybody can just learn quicker, and it is the case in Ferrari.”
Leclerc has sat on pole position in seven of the 13 races this season but has only converted two of them in victories and has three wins overall. In comparison, Max Verstappen, who boasts more experience fighting at the standings’ summit, has been on pole just three times in 2022 but achieved his eighth win in Hungary, stretching his championship lead over Leclerc to 80 points.
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The latter’s inexperience and Ferrari’s title-contending rust have shown on occasions this season despite the Scuderia’s illustrious history. And he’s explained that while every driver will react to mistakes differently, he prefers to face them head-on to help improve and develop quicker.
“[Errors are] part of the experience; it’s part of the path of anybody in whatever work you do – at one point, a mistake will happen,” Leclerc added. “Every individual will react in a different way. This is my way of reacting to it. And I’ve always felt the benefit of being honest with yourself and just grow from it.”