Barcelona, Spain: Bernie Ecclestone admitted Thursday that he misjudged the potential and speed of Charles Leclerc and hinted that the Ferrari new boy may be faster than team-mate and four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel.
The former commercial supremo of Formula One had been a critic of Ferrari’s decision to bring in Leclerc as a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen.
But, he told La Gassetta dello Sport, he knows now that this was an error of judgement.
"I was wrong, I thought that sending Raikkonen away was not a good move," said Ecclestone.
"I will have to wait a while before making a final judgement, of course, but at the moment Charles seems to be super-fast.
"He’s got great car control and he is, perhaps, even faster than Vettel. Seb isn’t old though so what’s happening to him now is strange.
"Maybe he had thought he had an easy life and he didn’t realise how fast Charles could be, but now he knows -– and I still believe that Vettel can win the championship."
Vettel and Ferrari are currently trailing in both the drivers’ and the constructors’ championships following Mercedes four consecutive one-two finishes in the season-opening races.
The Italian team are in need of a major boost in form and results at this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix if they are to revive their title challenge despite using team orders this season to try and give Vettel an edge.
"At this stage of the season, that is out of place really," said Ecclestone. "There are things that are done later in the season when there is a clearer picture... Right now, nobody knows what the season will bring."