'Leclerc damaged Ferrari in 2019'

Jacques Villeneuve reckons Charles Leclerc’s desire to not be seen as Ferrari’s secondary driver to Sebastian Vettel in his debut season with the Scuderia has ultimately hurt the team’s chances in 2019.

The Monegasque driver made the step-up from Sauber to replace Kimi Raikkonen, with the general assumption being he would play second fiddle to four-time champion Vettel, at least in the first season.

Leclerc defied this, and even ignored team orders as early as the second race of the season when the team asked him to let Vettel pass in Bahrain, which he didn’t do.

He ultimately finished ahead of his veteran team-mate in the drivers’ championship, but Villeneuve still thinks his actions were damaging.

“Ferrari fell apart this year,” the former world champion told Formule1.

“A lot depends on your two drivers, and the chemistry within the team just was not in balance.

“Ferrari never said to Leclerc: ‘It’s your first year with us, your second year in F1. Relax, learn from Vettel.’

“Then the team would have moved further forward than now.”

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“Instead, from the first race, Leclerc has had the attitude of ‘I’m going to show that I’m the boss and that Vettel is past. I am the future.’

“And there was a wave among the fans of ‘Leclerc is coming to save us’ and the media went along with it.

“I think that hurt Vettel. That didn’t help Ferrari as Leclerc simply wasn’t ready for that role.

“This year he drove for pole positions and sometimes for victories but not for the championship. So this whole situation has damaged Ferrari.

“I don’t know what Mattia Binotto could do about that.

Villeneuve went on to use Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barrichello as an example of a team dynamic which was clearly set-out for both drivers.

“I do not know the agreements,” continued.

“In the days of Irvine and Barrichello, this was simply established. How does this work? Who will say?”