Charles Leclerc

Formule1.nl

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Team:

Ferrari

Date of birth:

October 16, 1997

Country of birth:

Monte Carlo

Titles:

Charles Leclerc is the man expected to lead Ferrari to a world title in the coming years. This is at least the expectation of the Scuderia, who have promoted him to team leader.

Leclerc grew up in Monaco, where his mother ran a hair salon that regularly served F1 drivers. With the annual Grand Prix, young Charles quickly became acquainted with motorsport, also thanks to his father Hervé and godfather Jules Bianchi.

His karting career took shape in 2005, in France he won titles in subsequent years. The French PACA championship, the Cadet class, the recognized CIK FIA World Cup: wherever Leclerc participated, he achieved success. During his karting years, a heated rivalry with contemporary Max Verstappen emerged. The two often encountered each other in the heat of battle, sometimes leading to collisions. In 2013, his last year in karting, he finished second in the world championship behind the same Verstappen.

Van Amersfoort Racing

His manager Nicolas Todt, son of Ferrari luminary Jean Todt, then thought it was time for the next step. Leclerc made his debut in the single-seaters in 2014, in the Formula Renault 2.0 he finished second behind Nyck de Vries. The following year he moved to Van Amersfoort Racing, where he succeeded Max Verstappen who was then going to drive for Toro Rosso. Team boss Frits van Amersfoort knew enough after a year, Leclerc was at least as good as his predecessor. He eventually finished fourth and impressed with a second place in Macau.

With ART, the Monegasque then convincingly became champion in the GP3 in 2016. For Prema, Leclerc won the Formula 2 title with great dominance in 2017. That year, Leclerc already made his first meters in Formula 1, he was already included in the Ferrari Driver Academy and was allowed to drive in free practice for the British and German Grand Prix for Haas. His excellent performances in the junior classes were rewarded with a seat at Alfa Romeo.

Stormy Entry into F1

In 2018, he regularly exceeded expectations, Leclerc is clearly not just a talented driver. The usually conservative Ferrari dares to take the gamble and promotes him to the main force after just one season. There he certainly does not disappoint. In addition to a series of pole positions, he took his first victory in Belgium and also triumphed for the tifosi in Monza. But then Ferrari is reprimanded for tampering with the engine and Leclerc experiences major setbacks in his sporting career for the first time.

Overcoming Personal and Professional Challenges

He has already faced more personal adversity, with the deaths of his mentor Jules Bianchi, his father Hervé, and karting friend Anthoine Hubert in a relatively short time. Each time, he demonstrated his maturity, resilience, and perseverance, indicating that he will also be able to overcome adversity on the track. His first chance at a title comes in 2022 when Ferrari starts the season excellently with two victories for Leclerc in three races. However, the Italian team’s performance declines, Leclerc himself makes too many mistakes, and his generational peer Verstappen proves to be too strong in the Red Bull. This will only make Leclerc hungrier and more motivated.

Sainz as a Rival

After Sebastian Vettel, Leclerc gets a new teammate at Ferrari in 2022: Carlos Sainz. The Monegasque performs better than the Spaniard that year, but the latter occasionally proves to be faster than Leclerc. Ferrari still sees Leclerc as the team leader, especially in 2023, under the leadership of the new team boss Fred Vasseur – the man who already encountered Leclerc at ART and brought him to Alfa Romeo.

However, Sainz often puts him under pressure, leading to stress for Leclerc. He makes more mistakes than he would like during his time at Ferrari. Is it the pressure to perform that is getting to him? Or does the potential title candidate expect too much of himself? Can Leclerc meet the high expectations at Ferrari in the coming years? Or will he choose to move on? Only time will tell.

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