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Despite only being 23 years old, Charles Leclerc is going into his third season as a Ferrari driver. The Monégasque racer impressed and outperformed his world champion teammate, Sebastian Vettel, again in 2020 and is arguably one of the fastest drivers on the grid.
With seven pole positions and two race wins, Leclerc has a strong foundation to build on and will hope that his team can give him a race winning car for 2021.
The future of Ferrari
Without being a member of one of the junior programs in Formula 1, Charles Leclerc already has quite a few successes to his name. In 2015, the young Monegasque appeared on the radar for the first time after finishing fourth in his debut season in Formula 3 (at Van Amersfoort Racing). The Macau race put Leclerc in second place and it was after this the Monegasque driver was signed by the Ferrari Driver Academy.
Test driver for Ferrari and Haas, in addition to participating in the GP3 series, Leclerc had his hands full in 2016, but shone again. Sitting next to Nyck de Vries (and Alexander Albon) at ART Grand Prix, the Monegasque achieved by far the best results and became champion.
Albon came second, De Vries sixth. The entire ART line-up (with the exception of Japanese driver Nirei Fukuzumi) made the switch to Formula 2, where once again it would be Charles Leclerc who impressed.
Formula 2 and throughout
For the 2017 season in Formula 2, Leclerc was placed next to fellow Ferrari Driver Academy member Antonio Fuoco at Prema. Despite an extremely difficult start (and not taking points during his home race in Monaco), Leclerc managed to turn the tide and won the title.
Just a week before his twentieth birthday, Leclerc won the Formula 2 championship and became the youngest winner of that class ever. Towards the end of that same year it was announced that the series of excellent results would give him a place at Sauber, who had just renamed themselves Alfa Romeo-Sauber.
The turnaround of Sauber
With Frederic Vasseur at the helm, Sauber was making big changes. Carrying the name Alfa Romeo was one of them, working more closely with Ferrari a second. Leclerc only needed three races to get used to Formula 1, after which the Monegasque immediately managed to tie up points finishes. His more experienced team mate, Marcus Ericsson was clearly struggling to match the results, which made Leclerc look all the better.
Once again the home race of young Monegasque turned out to be more bad luck than good luck, after the Sauber brakes failed and Leclerc went fully in the back of Brendon Hartley. Throughout the season, Charles managed to collect 39 points (P6 in Baku as his best finish) and finish thirteenth in the championship. For Ferrari, they had seen more than enough to have a good feeling about the switch to the Italian team in 2019.
In 2019 the choice turned out to be justified. The Monegasque was fast in qualifying and knew how to impress in several races. It was not the four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel who took the first pole or victory of the team, but the newcomer from Monaco. In fact, after his pole and victory in Belgium, Leclerc managed to put down a series of four consecutive poles.
Therefore, it was not crazy that Ferrari announced that the contract for the young Monegasque would be extended. A five-year deal would be offered to Leclerc and thus the plan for the future of Ferrari seems clear.
Charles Leclerc in 2020
2020 was a more challenging year for Ferrari but Leclerc still managed to beat his teammate and will be hoping to have a fast car so he can get back to the top in 2021.
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