Mercedes: What’s gone wrong at the F1 and can they recover?
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Charles Leclerc’s anger management skills have come on leaps and bounds since his days in karting as a teenager alongside Max Verstappen, according to a long-time associate of the Ferrari man. Leclerc currently leads the Drivers’ Championship standings after a near-perfect start to the new F1 season and will be hoping to snatch the title away from Verstappen between now and the end of the campaign.
The pair were bitter rivals during their formative years in karting and often came to blows on the track before moving into car racing and later joining the F1 grid. Dr Riccardo Ceccarelli, head of Formula Medicine, began working with Leclerc when the latter was just 13 years of age and believes that his emotional maturity is now far better than it was during his adolescence.
“Charles’ problem was to control his racing enthusiasm, which had led him to fight with Verstappen in the karts and to throw his team-mate off the track in a World Championship,” Ceccarelli told Italian newspaper Il Foglio.
“He gave Max a wheel spin after the finish line because he thought it was unfair. Charles couldn’t handle his anger, that was his weak point. We worked a lot on that and I think you can see the results.”
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It remains to be seen whether Leclerc’s temper will come to a head once again this year, though, if he ends up in a two-way scrap with Verstappen in his bid to secure a maiden Drivers’ Championship title at the end of the campaign. Ceccarelli went on to insist that Leclerc’s confidence will go a long way in shaping the outcome of this season’s battle for glory if he manages to avoid slipping away over the coming months.
“Compared to last year, for me the car has changed most of all,” added Ceccarelli. “Today it seems tailor-made for him and he can push it to the maximum.
“He has regained his confidence and can take it to the limit without taking risks. A winner like Charles is, he wants to win and if he feels he doesn’t have the car he loses confidence and serenity.
“It’s frustrating, you take a few more risks, you travel outside your comfort zone. We’ve seen a lot of great drivers make mistakes when they were young in cars that weren’t winners. They don’t accept being beaten.
“And now that he has the car to win we see the champion, a driver who can make the difference. In this moment Charles is able to use all his potential.
“He attacks without doing anything stupid, he is in full mental control. Today he has the peace of mind and the security of having a car that he can put wherever he wants.”
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