Cape Town - Former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine believes Charles Leclerc is "much, much better" than Red Bull's Max Verstappen because he makes fewer mistakes.
Although Leclerc is only in his second season in Formula 1, the 22-year-old has joined Verstappen and reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton as one of the big stars of the show.
The Monegasque driver claimed his first F1 win at the Belgian Grand Prix and followed that up a week later with a victory at Ferrari's home race, holding off Lewis Hamilton and then Valtteri Bottas to win at Monza.
His post-summer break run of four successive pole positions also meant he became the first Ferrari driver since Michael Schumacher to bag four Saturday P1s on the trot.
Irvine reckons it proves Leclerc is a better driver than Verstappen.
"There is no argument, Leclerc is much, much better," the former Ferrari driver said at the Il Festival dello Sport in Trento prior to the Japanese Grand Prix.
"He has four poles this year and he does not even have the best car in F1, sorry Ferrari.
"While Verstappen continues to make many stupid mistakes despite having been in F1 for years, many more than Leclerc.
"Charles looks to be very focused and someone who doesn't make mistakes.
"He could have won more than two races and he doesn't have the best car. This tells you a lot.
"And then in Monza what he did racing against Hamilton was crazy, maybe not 100 per cent legal but amazing to watch.
"He's very clever, intelligent and very good. Much better than Verstappen for me, there is no discussion."
Leclerc currently holds down third place in the Drivers' Championship with 221 points, nine ahead of Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel.