Published On: Mon, Jun 4th, 2018

Sauber F1 rookie Leclerc trying not to heed praise from peers

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Charles Leclerc says he will try not to listen too much to the “amazing” praise he has received by multiple Formula 1 world champions.

Four-time champions Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton said the hype around the Formula 2 champion was justified in the build-up to the Monaco Grand Prix.

Retired drivers Nico Rosberg, the 2016 world champion, and Felipe Massa also heaped praise on the Sauber rookie before his home race.

“It feels amazing,” Leclerc said when asked by Autosport how it felt to hear such comments.

“To have these four drivers speak of me that way, saying positive things, is crazy. It’s always very special to hear these positive things.

“On the other hand I try to not listen to it too much, focus on the job. I still have a lot I can improve on.

“When I’m out of the car, I have very big respect for them and it’s an honour to hear that.

“When I’m in the car, when I have the helmet on, I don’t think about anyone.

“These things disappear and the drivers that are there are just any drivers.”

Leclerc retired from the Monaco GP after a front-left brake disc failure caused him to rear-end Brendon Hartley’s Toro Rosso.

He had scored back-to-back points finishes before that, including a sixth in Azerbaijan.

Hamilton said Leclerc could do “great things” in F1 and Vettel tipped him as a future Ferrari driver, while Rosberg went even further.

“He has the potential to win the championship one day,” said Rosberg.

“The very special drivers, even when they don’t have a good car, they manage to bring across the magic.

“And that’s what Charles has now been doing. One, two races where you just see: ‘OK, this is special’.”

Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur has been keen to avoid putting too much expectation on Leclerc this season.

“He is doing a very good start of the season, but it is very difficult also to compare from 2018 to 2006 [when Vettel and Hamilton made their F1 debuts] and you don’t have to do this kind of exercise.

“He is very focused on the next events and he avoids being focused on the future, and that is a good thing.”

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