Bianchi deserved Ferrari F1 seat ‘probably even more than me’ – Leclerc

2020 F1 season

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Charles Leclerc says his childhood friend Jules Bianchi deserved a chance to drive for Ferrari before his death in 2015.

The pair rose through the junior motor racing categories together but Bianchi, the older by eight years, reached Formula 1 first. Like Leclerc, he was a member of Ferrari’s Driver Academy, and tested their F1 car several times.

Bianchi was being positioned for a promotion from one Ferrari engine customer, Marussia, to another, Sauber, when he suffered serious head injuries in a crash during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. He died the following year.

Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo recently named Bianchi one of the most under-rated rivals he had ever raced against.

“He would have been in a top team and a race-winner by now for sure,” said Ricciardo in a social media post. “In some ways I feel Charles is doing now what Jules would have been doing, it’s like Charles is the delayed version of what Jules would have done with the success he’s having.”

Speaking in a press conference yesterday, Leclerc described how his career overlapped with Bianchi’s.

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“The father of Jules and my father always joked that we had very similar careers. And strangely when he was racing and I was racing every time there was a weekend he had a very bad race, the same weekend I had a very bad race too. They were always joking [about] this.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2019
Leclerc made his Ferrari debut last year
“With our careers, obviously they are quite similar because with also Nicolas [Todt], my manager, he took more or less the same road for both of us.”

Bianchi showed he had the potential to success in a top F1 team with performances such as his drive to Marussia’s first points finish at Monaco in 2014, said Leclerc.

“I’m pretty sure Jules had shown what he had to show in Formula 1. There was definitely a lot more to come. I think results like in Monaco when he was in Marussia was telling a lot about his talent.

“So he definitely deserved the F1 seat, probably the Ferrari seat even more than I did. But things decided others for him unfortunately. I’m pretty sure he would have shown probably even more than what I do. He was extremely talented.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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12 comments on “Bianchi deserved Ferrari F1 seat ‘probably even more than me’ – Leclerc”

  1. I would imagine if Bianchi were alive, Vettel would have been in more trouble by now or by 2017 at earliest. He could even have his seat lost by now.

    1. @krichelle Even though this is useless speculation as we’ll never get to know for certain, but I bet Kimi would’ve lost his drive at Ferrari earlier than he did. The possibility of having to leave the team, of course, also applies to Seb.

      1. @jerejj I would agree that, if Bianchi were to replace one of the two Ferrari drivers, it is much more likely that he would have replaced Kimi.

        When Kimi joined Ferrari in 2014, his contract was only two years (i.e. 2014 and 2015), whereas Vettel was joining on a three year contract from 2015. Ferrari seem to have been working on a plan for Vettel to join as the figurehead for the team, with Bianchi then joining the team a few years down the line – there was a suggestion of moving him to a midfield team on a one year deal, with Sauber being an obvious choice (due to their links with Ferrari), suggesting that Ferrari probably wanted to give him one more year to develop his skills.

        That said, I don’t think that Krichelle is suggesting that Bianchi would have been hired in place of Vettel – rather, I get the impression he is suggesting that Bianchi would have pressured Vettel into leaving the team if you had a Vettel-Bianchi line up. How they might have performed against each other, though, is something that we can only guess at.

    2. @krichelle and Kimi might have left F1 already… if Jules was in his place, his second stint at Ferrari would’ve been so much shorter.

  2. But at the same time, would Leclerc have been where he is now, perhaps next to a Bianci who won the 2018 WDC, or would he be in an Alfa, whith Kimi still in the Ferrari @krichelle – I am sure he is now more or less at ease with that thought now, as much as he misses his compatriot, but it remains an interesting question how his career changed from the loss of Bianci.

  3. .@krichelle made a good point here, although obviously we will never know, nowadays we would be talking about if Leclerc is good enough to replace Vettel or Bianchi in 2021, maybe… Instead of that now we talk about if Sainz is good enough to replace Vettel in 2021. I think Ferrari knows that but they are leaving a renewal option to Vettel out of respect because of the last five (six with 2020) years. Right?

    1. Sainz???.
      A good driver without a doubt, but not wdc material.
      And with the Spanish press and his dad never a supporting driver for long.

      1. Yes, Sainz. He has won major junior series championships. He outqualified Verstappen in his debut year in F1. He has experience with three different teams and two different engines. 5 seasons in F1 being 25 years old. Mega consistent, difficult to remember a driving mistake from his side. And in 2019 he proved to be extremely fast with a podium and 96 points, finished higher than two Red Bull drivers in last season WDC.

      2. If you give a second thought, Sainz is the best option to replace Vettel if he does leave. Good driver, consistent. Not expensive as Ricciardo, who also would play second fiddle to Leclerc. Younger. Makes sense. With due proportions, it’d be an emulation of Hamilton-Rosberg pairing, without the soap-opera plot. Why not?

    2. I don’t know why Sainz gets hyped so much. He’ll never win a race, never mind a WDC.

  4. I always felt it wrong signing Kimi instead of Bianchi for 2014. Who knows how the driver line-up would be today?

    1. Hindsight is always 20-20, Bianchi needed another year in Sauber in the midfield to develop his skills further

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