Ferrari's Charles Leclerc can be like Michael Schumacher: FIA chief
He finished ninth at the Singapore Grand Prix last year, but Charles Leclerc has been tipped to shine this time around.
Touted as the next Michael Schumacher, Leclerc has become one of the men to watch at this weekend's Singapore night race.
The 21-year-old Monegasque is clearly the man of the moment, having won the last two races in Belgium and Italy.
His resilience and guile in fending off five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton at Monza have won him many admirers, including FIA president Jean Todt.
Todt has even likened Leclerc to Schumacher, whom he managed while he was Ferrari's team boss during their glorious era.
"Charles is extremely strong mentally," Todt told Auto Bild.
"He has the makings of a great champion and the same natural way to lead a team as Michael Schumacher once did.
"He represents the future of Formula 1 and Ferrari."
Leclerc, meanwhile, has chosen to play down expectations ahead of the Singapore GP, mindful of the challenge that the Marina Bay Street Circuit brings.
"We need to stay realistic. I think we expected that Spa and Monza would be very good races for our car, but we also know that the next few races will be a lot more difficult for our car," Leclerc said during his post-race conference at Monza.
"So, we need to be realistic and, yeah, it's not going to be easy. I think especially Singapore.
"I think it will be a nice surprise if we are better than what we expect - but we expect to struggle there. We'll see."
While Leclerc has shone this season, his teammate Sebastian Vettel has been a pale shadow of himself.
The German, 32, has not won a race since last year's Belgian GP. His 2019 season has been punctuated by mistakes.
For instance, at Monza, he made an unforced error, spun off and rejoined the track dangerously.
He was then penalised and ended up 13th after being lapped. This season, he has secured only six podium finishes in 14 races.
But Vettel has found a supporter in Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, who insists that no one should write him off.
Said Wolff: "He's a four-time world champion, and the difference between the great ones and the good ones is that the great ones are able to get up again.
"And I have no doubt that he can do that.
"He's had a spell of bad races, and now it will be about the ability to get himself back into where he deserves to be."
The Marina Bay circuit has been kind to Vettel, who has won here four times, once with Ferrari in 2015 and with Red Bull from 2011 to 2013.
To make it a fifth win, however, he would need to master his machine, said ex- Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya.
"I think he doesn't like something in the car or this year's tyres and Leclerc is able to better adapt," Montoya said in an interview with Autosport magazine last week.
"When you're not happy with the car and you push, mistakes happen...
"I don't think it's a mental thing. It is more a technical one."