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Sport F1 News: Leclerc a mix of Schumacher and Raikkonen, says Alfa team manager

12:27  06 june  2020
12:27  06 june  2020 Source:   autosport.com

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a man in a red shirt: Leclerc a mix of Schumacher and Raikkonen - Alfa boss © LAT Images Leclerc a mix of Schumacher and Raikkonen - Alfa boss

Charles Leclerc's ex-Formula 1 team manager says the Ferrari driver has a mix of characteristics from world champions Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen.

Leclerc made his F1 debut with Sauber in 2018 before being promoted into a race seat with Ferrari after just one year.

The Monegasque youngster starred throughout last year, winning two races and finishing fourth in the drivers' standings ahead of four-time world champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

Leclerc was rewarded with a new long-term contract at Ferrari, keeping him at the team until the end of 2024.

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Long-serving Sauber team manager Beat Zehnder worked with Leclerc through the 2018 season and immediately felt aware he was dealing with a special talent.

"It was a very good season, it was a very interesting season working again with a young kid," Zehnder told Autosport in an interview for a series celebrating 50 years of Sauber in motorsport.

"We've done this before, but for the first time in a long time, we had a newcomer, a very special driver with a very special attitude.

a group of people standing next to a man wearing a hat: Leclerc a mix of Schumacher and Raikkonen - Alfa boss © LAT Images Leclerc a mix of Schumacher and Raikkonen - Alfa boss

"I've never seen a driver like Charles before, and it was again very rewarding for all the work we had, for all the difficult times we had, to work with a kid again.

"I've always said that for me, from his speed, he's Kimi Raikkonen, and from his working attitude, he's probably Michael [Schumacher].

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Kimi Raikkonen , Ferrari SF71H at Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Russian Grand Prix, Qualifying Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F 1 Team at Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Russian Charles Leclerc , Alfa Romeo Sauber C37 at Formula One World Championship, Rd16

Charles Leclerc has never been afraid of a little self criticism, and the Ferrari driver was typically hard on himself again after Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying “ I ’m very disappointed with myself today, I did quite a big mistake on my first timed lap in the first corner which cost me at least three-tenths so it’s

"Give him a good car, and he's going to be world champion, definitely."

Zehnder has been part of Sauber's motorsport programme since 1987, working with Schumacher in the early part of his career when he raced sports cars before making his F1 debut.

Zehnder and Raikkonen first met in 2000 when the young Finn was preparing for his rookie F1 season with Sauber in 2001, before linking back up in 2019 upon Raikkonen's return to Hinwil, with the team rebranded as Alfa Romeo Racing.

Leclerc's potential was also recognised by experienced Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson, who was not surprised to see the 22-year-old fare so well against Vettel at Ferrari.

"I could tell straightaway that this guy is special, this is a special talent," Ericsson told Autosport.

Marcus Ericsson wearing a red hat: Leclerc a mix of Schumacher and Raikkonen - Alfa boss © LAT Images Leclerc a mix of Schumacher and Raikkonen - Alfa boss

"When I saw him joining Ferrari and going up against Vettel, I knew he was going to be super-competitive - but maybe not that he was going to be as good as he was, only in his first year with Ferrari.

"I could tell that he is a very, very special driver and talent. He's definitely helped me to show what kind of driver I am.

"I think especially when he went on and the way he drove last year with Ferrari, [that] has also helped me I think in a way."

Kubica laughing to think 2020 schedule would be too busy .
Robert Kubica says he is "almost laughing" at the idea of his 2020 racing schedule being too busy between Formula 1 and DTM duties before the COVID-19 pandemic hit .After losing his Williams F1 seat at the end of last year, one-time grand prix winner Kubica secured a move into DTM for 2020, racing a customer BMW M4 with Team ART.The Pole also joined Alfa Romeo Racing as its new F1 reserve driver in support of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, sampling the car during pre-season testing in February.

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