Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen are the two drivers who will lead Formula 1's next generation of drivers. The man from Monaco is in his second...
Charles Leclerc is a Formula 1 driver for Scuderia Ferrari. At 21 years of age, Leclerc has a huge future in front of him. The driver from Monaco impressed during his rookie season in F1 with Alfa Romeo Sauber – scoring 39 points and managing a 13th place finish for the Swiss-Italian side. Such form earned him a dream move to Ferrari, with the youngster replacing the F1 veteran that is Kimi Raikkonen.
The late Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne had the wish that Leclerc would drive for the Italian side, but when Marchionne tragically passed away, the move became a bit more complicated. However, Leclerc got his dream move and will start driving for the 16-time world champions in the 2019 season, driving alongside Sebastian Vettel.
Leclerc’s rise to the big time
Leclerc began his karting career back in 2005, with the driver from Monaco winning the French PACA Championship in the same year, and in 2006 and 2008. His last year karting was in 2013 where he finished runner-up to Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen in the CIK-FIA World KZ Championship.
A year later, Leclerc made the switch to Formula Renault 2.0, driving for British team Fortec Motorsports. He enjoyed an extremely successful first season in the category, claiming seven podium positions and a double victory at Monza. However, Nyck de Vries just pipped Leclerc to the title.
Formula 3 was the next destination for Leclerc with Dutch side Van Amersfoort Racing. Leclerc made his debut at Silverstone, and due to a disqualification for Felix Rosenqvist, the Monegasque driver claimed pole position and held on for his first race victory, with Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi finishing behind Leclerc in P2. It was then two in two for Leclerc, as he was victorious in Hockenheim.
It seemed as if there was nothing he couldn’t do – and an impressive debut season in F3 for Leclerc saw him finishing in fourth place – perhaps it would have been higher if he hadn’t had sustained damage to his chassis following a collision with Racing Point driver Lance Stroll in Holland.
Leclerc made the step-up to Formula 2 next, driving for Prema Racing alongside fellow Ferrari junior driver Antonio Fucco. The youngster then took pole position in his first race in Bahrain, but could only go onto finish third. There was slight disappointment for Leclerc, though, with the driver failing to score any points in his homeland of Monaco despite being on pole. He was in the lead and then a suspension issue forced the driver to retire.
But that didn’t stop Leclerc from going on to becoming the youngest ever champion of F2 at 19 years and 356 days old.
Formula 1 for Charles
In March 2016, Leclerc was confirmed to join the Ferrari Driver Academy and subsequently became a development driver for Haas F1 Team and Ferrari. Leclerc had his first taste in an F1 car at the British Grand Prix for Haas, driving in FP1. He then took part in the mid-season testing at the Hungaroring for Ferrari and managed to secure the quickest time after 98 laps.
With Leclerc impressing during his rare opportunities to showcase his talents, Sauber signed him for the 2018 season. This made Leclerc the first Monegasque driver in F1 since Olivier Beretta back in 1994. Leclerc would partner Marcus Ericsson at Sauber, and in his rookie season – the youngster would completely out-perform the Swedish driver. He secured multiple seventh-place finishes during his rookie season and finished in 13th in the drivers’ standings; ahead of the likes of Toro Rosso.
Ferrari: Dream come true
On September 11 2018, Ferrari confirmed the decision to replace Raikkonen with Leclerc for the 2019 season. It was inevitable for some time in regard to this switch. Ferrari team principal revealed that Leclerc’s contract at Maranello would be four-years long – “at least until 2022”.
Leclerc has since made his first test outing as a Ferrari driver, participating in the Abu Dhabi testing right at the end of the season. Leclerc dedicated his move to Ferrari to the late Jules Bianchi, his godfather, who many think would’ve driven for Ferrari if not for his untimely death.
Charles Leclerc News
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