Former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn says he is reminded of aspects of Michael Schumacher’s time with the Scuderia by Charles Leclerc’s back-to-back victories.
Leclerc took the first win of his Formula 1 career at the Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago and followed that up with a defensive drive to hold off both Lewis Hamilton and then Valtteri Bottas in Italy on Sunday. In securing a home win for Ferrari at Monza, Leclerc gave the team its first Italian Grand Prix victory since 2010, and F1’s managing director of motorsport Brawn recalls a similar performance from Schumacher.
“Clearly, when Ferrari wins at Monza the party really gets going and that’s just what happened on Sunday as Charles Leclerc took the checkered flag,” Brawn said. “Indeed, it reminded me of that 2003 race, when Michael Schumacher, in the F2003-GA, and Juan Pablo Montoya, in an on-song Williams FW25, fought it out almost all race long.
“The battle between Michael and Juan Pablo on the opening lap at the Roggia chicane was very similar to that between Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton on lap 23 of Sunday’s race. The Ferrari man did not back down and was on the limit of what the rules allow, as great champions always are and have to be. In fact, Leclerc was also very shrewd in the way he handled the situation in that truly bizarre Q3 qualifying session on Saturday.”
Montoya and Schumacher battle at Monza in 2003. Image by Ballanca/LAT
Brawn points to Schumacher’s own first season at Ferrari as an achievement that Leclerc has emulated over the past two races.
“Following on from his win in Spa the previous Sunday, Charles had an incredible weekend,” Brawn said. “The thing that impresses me most about him is how quickly he learns from everything he does, getting better all the time, as a driver and as a man.
“And, as was the case in Belgium, the team did a very good job, for example when it opted to put Charles on the hard tire thus putting him on a different strategy to Hamilton. The overall package might be slightly inferior to that of Mercedes, but Ferrari made the most of what it had, attacking in qualifying and defending tooth and nail in the race, producing its second consecutive win.
“The last Ferrari man to do that in these two races was Michael in 1996. Maybe history is beginning to repeat itself.”