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Heidfeld says current expectations on Leclerc are unrealistic.

Charles Leclerc has not had a good start to 2020, according to former F1 driver Nick Heidfeld. Indeed, although he was a surprise second in the uncompetitive Ferrari in the first Austrian race, the 22-year-old took all the blame for a crash with his teammate Sebastian Vettel in the second.

And although he’s leaving the Italian team at the end of the year, it was Vettel who looked the more competitive driver last time out in Hungary. “Leclerc has not done well in the last two races,” Heidfeld, who contested 185 grands prix until 2011, told Sky Deutschland.

In fact, he called Hungary a “weak race” for Leclerc. “I’ve been saying for months that Leclerc is being seen in Italy as the great savior of Ferrari,” Heidfeld said. “The plan was to get him into the car and succeed where so many others have failed by winning the world championship. In the weeks and months before the season, he was almost a God who could do anything.

“But so much was projected onto him that he could not achieve it,” Heidfeld insisted. “It is clear now that what was expected of him is completely unrealistic.” That pressure will only ramp up even further, given Ferrari’s lack of pace and the fact that Italy will host no fewer than three races in 2020.

“Especially as Ferrari in Italy, it can and will be a very difficult time for Charles with that car,” Heidfeld said. “At the beginning the perception is positive because he stands by his mistakes. But he cannot keep doing that. “If he keeps making mistakes and keeps saying ‘My mistake’, then the press will start asking why he is there. Very quickly it could become a difficult situation for him.

“Nowhere is the pressure greater than at Ferrari,” Heidfeld added. “Fortunately, that’s exactly one of Charles’s great strengths – coping with pressure. “But the biggest question is how will he continue to develop? I’m curious to see how far the curve goes up. It will be exciting to watch.”

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