Leclerc: Bianchi deserved Ferrari seat more than me

Jonathan Noble

Last week, Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo listed Bianchi as one of his most underrated rivals, and suggested that the Frenchman would have been as big a star at Ferrari as Leclerc has become, were it not for his death as the result of injuries sustained in a crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

“It's another part of what makes his story so sad, because [Bianchi] would have been in a top team and a race winner by now for sure," Ricciardo wrote.

"In some ways, I feel Charles is doing now what Jules would have been doing. It's like Charles is the delayed version of what Jules would have done with the success he's having."

Leclerc's godfather and served as his racing mentor, with the pair also both managed by Nicolas Todt.

Asked about Ricciardo’s comments, Leclerc agreed that Bianchi would have had a stellar career at Ferrari.

“Jules had shown what he had to show in F1, and there was definitely a lot more to come,” said Leclerc. “But I think results like [scoring points] in Monaco, when he was in Marussia, were telling a lot about his talent.

“So he definitely deserved the F1 seat, the Ferrari seat, probably even more than I did. But [fate] decided something other for him unfortunately. But I'm pretty sure he would have shown probably even more than what I do and yeah, he was extremely talented.”

Leclerc said that it had been noticeable throughout their careers, with their fathers good friends, how similar their rise to the top had been.

“I think our fathers, the father of Jules and my father, always joked that we had a very similar career,” he said. “And strangely also when he [Bianchi] was racing and I was racing, if he had a very bad race that weekend, the same weekend, I will have a very bad race too.

“They were always joking with this, and I think with our careers, obviously they are quite similar because also with Nicolas, my manager.”