Leclerc will take the praise, but won’t keep it

Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc is flattered by all the praise sent his way by a quartet of F1 stars, past and present, but his job at hand with the Swiss outfit remains his main focus.

Both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel declared themselves mightily impressed with 20-year-old apprentice and the outstanding talent he reflects, their lyrical compliments echoed by retired racers Nico Rosberg and Felipe Massa in Monaco.

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Leclerc is keeping his feet on the ground and his ego in check however.

“It feels amazing,” Leclerc told Motorsport.com.

“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.

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“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.”

Rosberg is convinced of Leclerc’s huge potential and the bright outlook it provides for the Monegasque.

“He has the potential to win the championship one day,” said an emphatic 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 boss Fred Vasseur, who nurtured the likes of Hamilton and Rosberg during their days in the junior formulae, insists he is managing expectations regarding his driver cautiously.

“He is doing a very good start of the season, but it is very difficult also to compare from 2018 to 2007 [when Vettel and Hamilton made their F1 debuts] and you don’t have to do this kind of exercise,” he said.

“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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