Surely you have already heard of the Monegasque driver, despite his young age. Charles wasted no time, immediately showing great talent and earning the love of the fans. Charles Leclerc was born in Monte Carlo on October 16, 1997, and began racing with karts on the Brignoles track managed by the father of Jules Bianchi, an old family friend and promising racing driver. It will be Jules who will help Charles in his early years in the racing world, naming him to Nicolas Todt, who agrees to finance the career of this young driver on one condition: to have good results. It is precisely in these early years that Leclerc shows his great talent, collecting excellent results in competitions with karts, with the sole objective of reaching the premier class, the dream of many drivers, Formula 1.
In 2014 marks his debut in single-seaters, taking part in the Formula Renault 2.0 Alps and finishing second with two wins, one pole and seven podiums. In 2015 he participated in the European Formula 3 championship, taking fourth position with four wins, three poles and thirteen podiums and finishing second at the Macau Grand Prix, behind the champion Felix Rosenqvist.
In 2016, with his arrival in the GP3 series, Charles Leclerc is announced as test driver of the Ferrari team and of Haas and joins the FDA, of which Jules himself is a part, taking the first steps towards the crowning of his great dream, to race for the Maranello team. A dream that Bianchi himself chases and that, due to the tragic accident in Suzuka in 2014, will never become reality.
In GP3 the Monegasque driver races for the ART GP and starts his season in the best possible way, taking his first victory of the season in the opening feature race in Barcelona, with a good six seconds ahead of his direct rival. His consistency will be fundamental in this championship, bringing the car to points in thirteen races and taking three wins and eight podiums, thus beating his teammate and main rival, Alex Albon, who by one more victory.
Charles Leclerc wins the world title in the Abu Dhabi feature race with a good 25 points clear of the second classified, as during the race Albon is forced to retire due to a contact, thus handing the title into the hands of the Monegasque. Unfortunately the race did not end in the best way for Leclerc, who was involved in an accident with the Italian driver Santino Ferrucci during an overtaking attempt during the fourteenth lap, thus withdrawing the car. Nonetheless, the advantage over Albon is such that Charles Leclerc takes the championship title with one race to go.
The 2016 season does not cease to give joy to the young driver, who in fact has the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car during free practice 1 of the British Grand Prix aboard a Haas, and then participate in a further test there. following week with the Ferrari SF 16-H again at Silverstone. Leclerc had already had the opportunity to drive a Formula 1 single-seater on May 9, 2016, of the same year, thus making his debut in the premier category in the Fiorano circuit, aboard an F14 T, thus obtaining the FIA Super License.
New year, new challenges: Leclerc rises in category and participates in the Formula 2 championship with the Italian team Prema. The rookie is immediately recognized, obtaining the pole in the first race of the season and winning the sprint race also in Bahrain, in a race that sees him protagonist of a beautiful comeback from fourteenth place with just eight laps to go. In fact, the Monegasque driver is at the head of the race with a good ten seconds gain from the second, but due to a pit stop on the fifteenth lap, he drops to fourteenth position, thus starting his race against time and taking that first victory in the category. immediately deserved. Leclerc wasted no time and secured his first victory with full points already in the second round of the championship in Barcelona, after starting from pole.
The season in Formula 2 sees the dominant Monegasque rookie, winning seven wins (equalling Stoffel Vandoorne's record) and eight pole positions (setting the record in one season), thus demonstrating his great talent which obviously does not go unnoticed. Charles wins the championship with three races to go on the Jerez circuit, finishing the feature race in first position. Despite the title victory, Charles does not hold back and does not lose focus, but also wins the last race in Abu Dhabi, thus ending his best career season.
In 2017 is certainly one of the most significant years for the Monegasque driver, as not only has he won the world championship after having completely dominated the most important minor rookie category, but in December his move to Formula 1 in the Alfa Romeo team is announced, crowning the dream he had been chasing since childhood; this season also showed the great clarity of the young driver, who, after the death of his father just before the fourth round of the championship in Azerbaijan, keeps a cool head and finishes first and second in the two races of the weekend.
In 2018 thus marks Charles' debut in the premier class aboard an Alfa Romeo Sauber, alongside Marcus Ericsson. The season does not start in the best way: in the first races he does not score points, but if there is one thing you need to be sure of, it is the willpower of this boy and his fighting spirit.
Obviously there is no lack of mistakes, but it is precisely these that make a better driver and Charles is no exception, showing that he can learn from them and improve himself more and more. In the fourth weekend of the season, at the Baku circuit in Azerbaijan, after qualifying thirteenth, Leclerc finished for the first time in his Formula 1 career in points, earning sixth position.
After a good start that sees him gain a position, Leclerc manages to be constant and throughout the race he does not drop below the eleventh position. Then, with new tires, after the pit stop he manages to defend himself from Alonso's attacks by climbing to tenth position. During the fortieth lap the two Red Bulls, led by Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, come into contact causing the neutralization of the race, and it is precisely under the safety car regime that Grosjean loses control of the car, thus allowing Leclerc to climb three positions, until reaching the seventh place. With the restart of the race, the Monegasque driver manages to overtake the Spaniard from Renault, gaining sixth position, and then climbing to fifth with just two laps to go due to Bottas' retirement caused by a puncture. A few laps from the conclusion Leclerc fails to counter the attacks of Sainz, who overcomes him; nevertheless, the rookie takes the car home in sixth position.
On September 11, 2018, after only one year in Formula 1, Charles Leclerc was announced as the second Ferrari driver alongside Sebastian Vettel, making him the youngest driver to race for the Maranello team after Ricardo Rodriguez. The arrival in Ferrari marks for Leclerc the culmination of that dream that he cherished since childhood. This is a great milestone in his career, which he would never have reached had it not been for the help of his godfather Jules in his early years on karts. The latter was very close to Ferrari and a future in red was expected for the French driver, but not all stories have a happy ending. Charles is doing what Bianchi couldn't do, driving that much loved and respected red car.
"My dream becomes reality, I will race for Ferrari in the 2019 season. I will be eternally grateful to the Scuderia Ferrari for the opportunity it has given me. To Nicolas Todt because he has supported me since 2011. To my family. To a person who no longer does it. part of this world but to which I owe everything that is happening to me, Dad. To Jules thank you for all the things you taught me, we will never forget you, and to all the people who have been close to me. I will work harder than ever for do not disappoint".
Leclerc ends his first year in Formula 1 proving that he deserves that much-coveted seat, beating his teammate and finishing thirteenth in the drivers' standings with 39 points, ready to turn the page and start a new chapter in his life. The 2019 season opens in Melbourne, Australia, on March 17, thus marking Charles Leclerc's Ferrari debut in a real race weekend. The Monegasque is fifth, his best position on the starting grid. Turned off the traffic lights he manages to maintain his position after a good start, which sees him attempting to overtake Vettel and Verstappen, without succeeding. During the race he maintains his performance constant, also coming to occupy the second position, but on the twenty-ninth lap he slips into fifth position after making the pit stop, in which he mounts the hard tires, taking them to the end of the race. Leclerc ends his first Ferrari race in fifth position, just half a second behind his teammate.
If in the first stage of the season he had proved to be constant and know how to limit mistakes, in the second he surpasses himself, leading the race for most of the fifty-seven laps. During qualifying in Bahrain, Charles earns his first career pole, thus starting from the first position for Sunday's race.
At the start of the Grand Prix he loses the first position, being overtaken by his teammate and subsequently by Bottas. But the Monegasque first manages to pass the latter again during the second lap, recovering the second position, and in a short time closes the gap that divides him from the leader of the race, overtaking him on the sixth lap despite his attempts to defend. On lap thirteenth Charles was called back to the garage, thus dropping to third position, but thanks to the pit stop of his teammate he moved up to second position and then returned to the lead, overtaking the Australian Daniel Ricciardo without any problems.
Thus began his solitary race, creating a gap of eight seconds from the second place occupied by Vettel and twenty-four seconds from the third position of Bottas. With the pit stop carried out by the German driver, which sees him descend to third position, Leclerc has the possibility to return safely to the garage to change tires without losing the position on the Finn: back on track, the gap between the two is only two seconds. This does not stop the Monegasque, who, after dominating the race for most of the time, brings him back to ten seconds, starting to smell his first victory. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the young driver from the Maranello team. In fact, on lap forty-five he declares that he has an engine problem, which will then be confirmed by the team principal himself. Leclerc begins to lose the advantage gained by being stolen the victory by Lewis Hamilton.
The Monegasque is easily overtaken by the Mercedes drivers, but fortunately the neutralization of the race, caused by the exit of both Renault with three laps to go, allows him to maintain at least the third position. He ends the race under the safety car regime, climbing on the podium for the first time in his career, after a race that saw him dominate from the start, but which unfortunately did not give him that first victory he so craved, even risking not to allow him to savor the champagne.
Despite the bitter sweet taste, Charles thanks the team for the fantastic performance of the car over the weekend, which allowed him not only to win the first pole of the season, but also the fastest lap of 1'22"41 and his first podium. Despite the great performances of the Monegasque, his first victory comes later than expected.
After a series of not excellent placings, in Canada he obtained the second podium in his career, finishing third behind Hamilton and Vettel. The same placement is replicated at the French Grand Prix. In Austria he conquers his second pole position in his career, also setting the track record, but he closes the race in second position, after having led it for a large part, yielding only in the final to Max Verstappen.
He still goes to the podium in Great Britain, where he conquers the lowest step also taking advantage of an accident between Vettel and Verstappen, in a Grand Prix spent for the most part fighting hard with the Dutch rival. And after a retirement at the Hockenheimring under the flood, and a finish in the points at the Hungaroring, in Belgium he obtained the pole position and, above all, his first victory in Formula 1, the absolute first for a Monegasque in the circus as well as the first of the season for Ferrari.
In qualifying for the thirteenth round of the championship, at Spa Leclerc obtained the third pole of the season, as well as the first of a series of three other poles, thus equaling the record of seven times World Champion Michael Schumacher: to be the only Ferrari drivers to obtain four consecutive pole. The Spa weekend is one of the most tragic of recent times, as on Saturday afternoon, during the Formula 2 race, the French driver Anthoine Hubert tragically lost his life in a collision with Juan Manuel Correa, who was seriously injured. Despite Hubert's tragic death, Formula 1 does not stop, so Charles Leclerc races in his honor, placing the racing for Anthoine dedication on each car. The Monegasque was a close childhood friend of the latter: despite the blow he has the strength and the same cold mentality of two years earlier, he lowers his visor and gives all of himself for his friend Tonio, for his dream, for this sport.
When the engines went out, Leclerc was the architect of a perfect start, maintaining his position and distancing himself from the rest of the group fastest lap after fastest lap, dominating the race with one goal: victory. On the twenty-first lap, after his pit he drops to fourth position, thus starting his comeback that takes him in a few laps behind his teammate. Leclerc is faster than Vettel and the latter under team order is forced to hand over the position to the Monegasque, who returns to the command of the race and begins to rebuild the gap behind him, taking him to six seconds.
With four laps to go and the tires now worn, Leclerc feels the pressure of Hamilton behind him, who is now closing the gap lap after lap. Charles keeps a cool head and without the slightest error runs the last few meters that separate him from the coveted finish line: La Source, Eau Rouge, the long straight, Les Combes, the finish line is approaching. The Monegasque faces the last corners and here he sees the last chicane, crossing the finish line. Charles Leclerc wins his first Formula 1 Grand Prix, and with a calm tone dedicates his victory to his friend Tonio: as he himself says in the radio team, it is a dream come true, even if it is difficult to celebrate.
"We grew up together, my first race was with Tonio, Pierre, Esteban. I dedicate this victory to him, I can't fully enjoy it, but it is sure a memory that I will always keep with me".
Leclerc leaves the weekend in Belgium behind him saying goodbye to a friend and bringing with him that bitter sweet taste of his first victory in Formula 1, with which he becomes the youngest driver ever to win with Ferrari, taking away this privilege from Jacky Ickx, winner of the French Grand Prix, in Rouen, at only twenty-three, six months and six days. With the after-effects of the weekend just ended, Formula 1 moves to Italy, the home of Ferrari, and Charles Leclerc wins another pole position, intent on keeping that promise made to the fans in Milan's piazza duomo: to win the race.
Once again the Monegasque driver is the architect of a perfect start, and when the traffic lights go out he keeps his position ahead of Hamilton and Bottas. Every second counts, Hamilton makes a pit stop on the twentieth lap and drops to fifth position; Leclerc enters the pits the next lap, managing to get out in front of the English driver, and thus starting the real competition with the British driver. With the wheels still cold, the Ferrari driver manages to keep the Mercedes driver behind him, targeting Hulkenberg. A matter of seconds and with an overtaking inside the latter passes the parabolic, closely followed by Hamilton who tries to overtake the Monegasque, failing and going wide to the Ascari and then rejoining the track.
On lap twenty-six, under the pressure of Hamilton's Mercedes, Leclerc took second position overtaking Ricciardo, who in turn passed by the English shortly after intent in pursuit of him. With Bottas' pit, Leclerc gains the first position, returning to the front of the race, with his opponent immediately behind. The neutralization of the race, caused by Sainz on lap 29, brings the cars back on track and at the restart Hamilton sticks to Leclerc, trying to pass him on the straight using the DRS, without success. The latter resists the constant attacks of the Englishman, without letting him pass and making the most of the speed on the straights of his Ferrari.
On lap 36, Leclerc makes a mistake by locking the wheels under braking, allowing Lewis to catch up and hope for an overtaking. But the Ferrari driver defended his position, preventing him from passing and continuing to lead the race, putting his opponent in difficulty and pushing him to repeat his same mistake in the first variant, thus leading him to lose the second position on Bottas. At this stage you can hear the roar of the crowd, which already perceives the scent of Ferrari victory on Italian soil.
Hamilton, seeing the possibility of recovering the Monegasque vanish, returns to the box to change wheels and aim for the conquest of the fastest lap. Meanwhile, Leclerc finds himself struggling with the second Mercedes driver now in the DRS area, who in turn fails to do so and goes wide at the first chicane. Two laps at the end you can already hear the screams of the fans echoing in the air: the red colors are dispersed on the sky of Monza, while Leclerc crosses the finish line and lets himself go in a scream of joy and emotions, which mixes with that of the crowd.
"Thanks for everything, you are the best forever".
These are the words he lets out on the radio on the road that leads him towards the pits, while he greets the red crowd. After getting out of the car still incredulous, Charles runs to embrace his team, and with his eyes still fixed at the moment he crossed the finish line, he goes to the microphones under the podium, asking to be able to speak in Italian for his fans. With a voice full of passion he thanks everyone, unleashing the screams of the people.
At the age of twenty-one, Charles Leclerc brought Ferrari back to victory in the Italian Grand Prix, after a fast that lasted nine years. The last time Ferrari had won at Monza was in 2010 with Alonso, when Leclerc was still racing karts at the time. Now there he is, nine years later wearing the long-dreamed red suit, representing the famous Maranello team on the podium, surrounded by a red tide that has invaded the Italian circuit, all to cheer only him. The Italian anthem resounds in the streets of Monza, the flags with the prancing horse are waved at the foot of the podium. He did it, Charles Leclerc kept that promise he made to the fans in Piazza Duomo, the Wednesday before, in honor of Ferrari's ninety years: to win.
The Monegasque's season proceeds with excellent results, without ever dropping below sixth position, with the exception of the two retirements respectively in Monaco and Hockenheim, and the disastrous weekend in Brazil, where, after a comeback from fourteenth to fifth, the two drivers Ferrari collided with five laps to go, not finishing the race.
Despite the weekend to forget at Interlagos, Leclerc concludes his first season in Ferrari in Abu Dhabi with a third position, taking a total of ten podiums, four fastest laps, two wins and seven pole positions, receiving the FIA pole trophy in the awards ceremony. post season, and finishing fourth with 264 points in the drivers' standings, ahead of his teammates.
The great performance of the Monegasque driver and his desire to race for Ferrari led him to sign a contract for another four years with the team from Maranello, expiring in 2024. But 2020 does not open in the best way: in the winter tests of Barcelona Ferrari does not give the desired results, anticipating what will be an uphill season for the Maranello team. In fact, at the end of the championship, Ferrari will only be in sixth position in the constructors' classification with 131 points.
In addition, due to the pandemic, the championship is postponed and many Grands Prix canceled. Despite the fear of a possible cancellation of the season, Formula 1 reopens its doors on July 5, 2020, in Austria, expecting an end to late December and managing to build a calendar with seventeen Grand Prix.
In the first Austrian Grand Prix, Leclerc qualifies seventh ahead of his teammate, who is only eleventh. The Monegasque maintains his position in the middle of the pack for most of the race, moving up to fifth thanks to the retirement of Verstappen and Albon. It is towards the end of the seventy-one laps, with a lighter car, that he begins to advance, overtaking Norris first, moving to fourth position, and then also jumping Perez two laps later, winning the second position due to the Hamilton penalty caused by the accident with the Thai driver.
The Monegasque driver manages to get on the podium only a second time, at Silverstone, at the end of a race that sees him start fourth. A position that he maintains throughout the Grand Prix, until Bottas suffers a puncture with two laps to go, allowing the Ferrari driver to pass him. Despite Leclerc's performance, Ferrari's conditions do not help, and for most of the season he even struggled to get the car to Q3. The Italian Grand Prix is an example of this. Leclerc qualifies only thirteenth, while his teammate is in the penultimate row. Unfortunately, the race does not end like last year, as the Monegasque driver loses control of the car on lap 24 and exits the parabolic.
In the Turkish Grand Prix, Charles touches the podium a third time, after a comeback that sees him as protagonist from thirteenth to third, but he misses the opportunity to sip champagne trying to overtake Sergio Perez on the last lap, losing thus the position not only on the latter, but also on Vettel, finishing in fourth place. In the last three races Leclerc finished tenth, with a retirement and a thirteenth place, thus putting an end to this disastrous season for Ferrari. Charles places eighth in the drivers' standings with only 98 points, and for the third time in Formula 1 he beats his teammate. Despite the difficult year for Ferrari, Leclerc does not doubt his contract with it, and says that it is and will always be a privilege for him to race for the Maranello team, now more than ever willing to bring his name back up and convey those emotions to the fans that only the red player can give.
"I am optimistic by nature, even though we are in a negative period. I believe in the people of the team, we can recover. Up until last year we were competitive, we have to be strong in these difficult moments. my life. It's an honor to be here".
This difficult year has certainly not demoralized the Monegasque, and indeed it has given him even more that desire to improve and always give his best, given that, after all, this is what Formula 1 drivers do.