Leclerc mature enough to become F1 champion while Max needs to 'shut his mouth'

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Charles Leclerc is mature enough to become Formula 1 champion, while Max Verstappen needs to "shut his mouth".

That is the assessment of former Benetton and Renault boss Flavio Briatore as he assessed the potential of the two drivers expected to lead the sport in the 2020s.

Beginning with Verstappen, who recently re-signed at Red Bull until the end of 2023, Briatore revealed his admiration for the Dutchman but feels his willingness to speak his mind may have already landed him in trouble.

“I like him very much, he is at the top and will stay there for a long time,” the Italian said via AutoSprint.

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“He is a good driver, does a lot of overtaking and helps create the show in Formula 1, but he must learn to shut his mouth.

“The statement about Ferrari [last year] and thinking they were cheating was a huge mistake for two reasons: First: it was not for him to say certain things, possibly. Second: it was not true.”

On the contrary, Briatore sees a comparison between Leclerc and two of the most talented drivers in F1 history.

“I see Charles as someone who is very mentally solid,” he added. “He’s already mature enough for winning the title if Ferrari gives him the car.

"The champions are like him and I am referring to when [Michael] Schumacher and [Fernando] Alonso were kids but were ready to conquer the world championship.”

Former Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger echoed Briatore on the Verstappen/Leclerc argument but claimed the final result is still very similar.

“The two are fundamentally different, Verstappen is more aggressive and unpredictable,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.

“He is completely apolitical, says what he thinks and does so loud enough for everyone to hear. He drives the same way.

“Leclerc gives the impression that he is the calmer and more considerate driver. I see more calculation, more politics.

“As I said, a completely different approach, but on the same level in terms of ability.”