The Ferrari driver is looking to win his first world title this season but finds himself facing an uphill task in the second part of the campaign, with him now a full 80 points behind Max Verstappen in the Drivers’ standings.
Indeed, reliability issues and some below-par strategy calls have not helped Charles’ cause this season, whilst his own big mistake in France gave Verstappen a huge boost as the Monegasque crashed from the lead and paved the way for the Dutchman to take victory.
Certainly, things have gone a little awry for Charles since the start of the season which saw him win two of the opening three races, and he was particularly critical of himself after the incident in France as he lost control of his Ferrari and hit the barriers at Paul Ricard.
Asked about that by Channel 4, Coulthard said he wasn’t shocked to hear Charles be so hard on himself, and backed him to become the ‘real deal.’
“I wasn’t surprised because that’s been part of how he’s been his whole time in Formula 1.
“Go back to Azerbaijan [qualifying, 2019] in the Ferrari, popped it into the wall at the chicane and said ‘I’m so stupid, I’m so stupid’. He’s not stupid, he’s a brilliantly fast racing driver.
“But he’s still maturing in front of the public eye, under the biggest pressure in Formula 1, that’s representing Ferrari. It’s more than a racing company, it’s a country, it’s a worldwide Tifosi.
“Once he’s ironed out those little errors – and let’s remind ourselves Max Verstappen made errors like that in his early career – he will be the real deal.”
It should be remembered that this is the first time that Leclerc has been involved in an F1 title fight, and the experience he will take from this season, regardless of how it finishes, will be invaluable.
There is no denying his talent and speed at the wheel of a racing car, and hopefully we’ll see many more battles between him and Max Verstappen in the future.