Verstappen is approaching the end of his fifth season in Formula 1 and reached the milestone of 100 grands prix in Austin recently.
However, the Dutchman is yet to feature in a title fight, with Red Bull’s struggles to keep pace in the V6 Hybrid era putting him at a disadvantage, despite his evident talents.
Red Bull’s title ambitions never really took off in 2019 as they got to grips with a switch to Honda power and Verstappen is fourth in the drivers’ standings, with Leclerc in third.
In his debut season for Ferrari, Leclerc has taken seven pole positions, at least two more than any other driver. By comparison, Verstappen’s pole in Hungary this year was the first of his career.
And former Ferrari favourite Massa believes Leclerc’s immediate transition to life at the Scuderia will put him into the title picture sooner rather than later.
“He’s a very talented guy, but the thing that strikes me most is his head, and his ability to handle pressure,” Massa told Motorsport.com.
“I do not know whether he is faster or slower than Verstappen, but the seven pole positions in his first year of Ferrari say a lot.
“He made some mistakes, but I think we all have to consider his still limited experience in F1 and it was his first year in a top team.
“He is a future world champion, and I think we will not have to wait long. I do not exclude that he can achieve that goal even before Verstappen.”