Formula 1 News: Leclerc hits back at new ‘title favorite’ label

(GMM) Charles Leclerc may be emerging as a new favorite for the 2024 F1 world championship because his Ferrari looks fast everywhere.

In Montreal, Red Bull consultant Dr Helmut Marko told Kleine Zeitung newspaper that after the first three races of the season, “the world championship looked so easy” for Max Verstappen to win again.

But now, with Charles Leclerc’s win for Ferrari from pole in Monaco coupled with Red Bull’s handling problems, Marko is nervously looking at the Monégasque.

“He has definitely made an incredible step forward and has great self-confidence,” said Marko, who says Leclerc’s Ferrari is now “universally fast on all tracks”.

Another figure pointing at Leclerc as the favorite in Montreal this weekend is McLaren’s Lando Norris.

“They always say that,” smiled Leclerc, “whether it’s Helmut Marko or Lando.

“But nobody wants to hear that they’re the favorite, so I’ll never say that,” he insisted.

However, Leclerc does agree that Ferrari has “improved more than anyone in the last seven or eight months”, and he admits that at least on paper, Verstappen and Red Bull can now be beaten.

The 26-year-old added: “We have to take every opportunity and the same approach, but I’m not thinking about the championship. I’m thinking about winning races at every grand prix and keep improving.”

McLaren team boss Andrea Stella also said in Montreal: “I do agree with Charles that Ferrari is in the quest to become world champion on both championships.”

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