Binotto: Leclerc driving like someone who can win F1 title

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto thinks Charles Leclerc is driving at the level of a Formula 1 world championship contender after taking first and second in 2022's pair of opening races.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 2nd position, celebrates on the podium

Leclerc took a commanding win from pole in Bahrain and looked set to win last weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as well, but had to settle for second behind F1 world champion Max Verstappen after an exciting late race fight.

Having outqualified and outscored team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr in the first two races in the Middle East, Leclerc now leads the world championship by 12 points over the Spaniard, with Verstappen 20 points back in third after his Jeddah win and DNF in Bahrain.

When asked if the 24-year-old is driving like someone who can win the world championship, Binotto said: "I think he is."

"But it's something which I was expecting when renewing as well with him in the last year for up to 2024, because we know what he's capable of," he added.

"I think he is simply demonstrating that he's capable of fighting for the championship.

"No doubt he's got the talent, he's got the capacity, he is a very good racer and we're very happy with what he's proving in these two races."

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari F1-75, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Self-critical Leclerc acknowledged that he's hit the ground running with the new generation of cars but added he has still found several areas to improve himself "to unlock more performance".

"I'm quite happy about this start of the season, for sure," Leclerc said.

"I'm working well with the team and the preparation for the first races was very good, so I feel good in general.

"But there's definitely more to come. The thing I'm happy about is not really the performance, but I know exactly where I still need to work and what I need to improve to unlock more performance.

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"Whether it will be enough or not to win the world championship, I have no idea. It's still very early on in the season but let's say that it's a very good start.

"As I said many times, I think development will be key and we as drivers need to help the team in the best way possible to keep this competitiveness."

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