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Ivan Koribanič
March 30, 2022, 11:56am
Reading time: 5:34

Charles Leclerc: The Journey To Success

Who Is Charles Leclerc, the racer who started the new F1 season with a victory in Bahrain?

Ivan Koribanič
March 30, 2022, 11:56am
Reading time: 5:34
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Charles Leclerc: The Journey To Success
Zdroj: Gettty images / Peter J Fox
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Charles Leclerc is a native of Monaco and his father, Hervé Leclerc, was also a formula driver. This is where the beginnings of Charles's passion for fast rides can be traced. In the 1980s and 1990s, his father raced in F3, and was highly regarded, he writes The Focus.

 

Hervé stood by Charles and inspired his careers and goals of getting into F1. Charles entered the world of motor sport in 2005 at the age of eight. He won the French championship during his first season.

 

In 2010, Charles's career was almost over. "My father had no money at the time. The sponsors paid, but traveling was very expensive, so it was the last year I could race, " Leclerc told the Independent. However, he was saved by his godfather, then an F1 racer, Jules Bianchi. "He went to his manager Nicolas Todd and told him, 'Charles is in his final year, so look at him, see if you are interested, maybe you can do something about him.'" He took Leclerc on in 2012, when he was 15, and paid for his following season.

 

Source: young Charles (left) with his father Hervé / Source: Instagram/Charles Leclerc

 

Over the years, Leclerc has won a number of titles. His first formula race was in 2014, when he started racing in the Renault 2.0 series. During the first season, he managed to achieve seven podium places and won the Monza circuit near Milan, Italy twice.

 

 

First season, first tragedy

In his first successful year of 2014, during the Japanese Grand Prix on October 5, Charles Leclerc was hit by the first tragedy. There was an accident, in which him and Jules Bianchi were involved. After this accident, Bianchi fell into a nine-month-long coma. He died on July 17, 2015.

 

 

"I have never came to terms with it, and I may not be able to do it, ever. However, I never doubted that I would continue. All I ever wanted to do was to race," he told Forbes. Before Leclerc got into the coveted F1, he had four more tests ahead of him. The first was the transition to F3, the same year when Bianchi died. He only spent one season in F3. During this time he managed to win four races.

 

After that, he tested his one-year career in GP3, where he also achieved great results - he won races on the Catalunya circuit, the Austrian Red Bull Ring and the Belgian Spa-Francorchamps. Since 2016, Leclerc has also been a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, of which Jules Bianchi was once a member. He was also a test driver for the Haas F1 team.


"Before the last GP3 race in Abu Dhabi, we learned that my father was ill. I haven't talked to anyone about it. I was afraid that if I got bad results, everyone would attribute it to that, even if it wasn't true. It was difficult in that regard," Leclerc said in an interview for Independent.

 

F1 was only step away from Leclerc  - F2, where he has been working since 2017. During his time in F2, he managed to win his first races in Bahrain for The Prema Racing team, with his colleague Antonio Fuoco, also a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy.

 

That season included a race in his native Monaco. "It was very difficult because my father's dream has been to see me race here since I was a child. They had to put their father in a coma shortly before the race because the condition was too serious."

 

 
 
 
Zobraziť tento príspevok na Instagrame
 
 
 

Príspevok, ktorý zdieľa Charles Leclerc (@charles_leclerc)

 

Fulfilling his father's dream, without his father

However, this season his Leclerc with another blow. Just four days before the Grand Prix in Baku Leclers' father, Hervé, lost the battle against cancer, passing at the age of 54. Charles took part in these races in spite of everything and managed to win. "When I finished second in the race, my father was not the happiest. So I focused on winning. I won to make sure he was still smiling," Leclerc said in an interview with Forbes.

 

Leclers immortalised his two greatest idols - Julius Bianchi and his father Hervé Leclerc - on his helmet. He added the inscription "PaPa" to its left side and the inscription "Jules" to the right. "I am much more mature and I see things completely differently now. I feel the pressure, but twenty times less. It will change your outlook on life. Suddenly you realise what really matters. I can now see, how many things I didn't make the most of. I think it changed me as a person, it changed the way I look at things," he said for for Independent.

 

 
 
 
Zobraziť tento príspevok na Instagrame
 
 
 

Príspevok, ktorý zdieľa Charles Leclerc (@charles_leclerc)

 

 

The year 2018 was the year all the dreams came true for Leclerc. He got into F1 and finished his first grand prix in March for the Alfa Romeo Sauber team. The first season was good, he says. He did not make unnecessary mistakes and, as far as possible, he always placed well.

 

 

As early as September, however,  the return of Räikkönen, who was to join the team for two seasons, was announced. Around the same time, Leclerc was hired by Ferrari. There, he was to work as alongside Sebastian Vettel. He thus became the second youngest driver in history to take race for Ferrari. The primacy is still held by Ricardo Rodriguez, who raced for Ferrari at the age of 19, during the 1961 season.

 

Source: Getty Images/Mark Thompson-Staff

 

 

He won his first pole position during his second grand prix as a Ferrari driver - in Bahrain. In the fifth round of the race, he even overtook his teammate Sebastian Vettel. Due to problems with the monopost, Leclerc finished third and thus won his first podium in F1. He had the fastest lap time of all the competitors in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

 

Výkony Charla Leclerca boli v nasledujúcich rokoch až na malé zaváhania pomerne vyrovnané. V sezóne 2021 prišiel do Ferrari z McLarenu Leclercov nový kolega Carlos Sainz. Dvojica sa hneď od začiatku zdala dobre zladená. V závere ich prvej spoločnej sezóny skončil o čosi lepšie Sainz. Zatiaľ čo Monačan obsadil celkové siedme miesto, Sainz piate. Leclerc získal v sezóne dvakrát pole position a desať umiestnení v top 5.

 

Charles Leclerc's performances were relatively balanced in the following years, except for some small hesitations. In the 2021 season Carlos Sainz transferred to Ferrari from McLaren. The pair seemed well-matched from the beginning. At the end of their first season together, Sainz finished a little better. While Leclerc finished seventh overall, Sainz finished fifth. Leclerc won pole position twice and placed in Top 5 ten times.

 

When your home circuit is a curse

For Charles Leclerc, his homeland - Monaco - is, paradoxically, a dream and a curse. "If I had to choose the most popular track, I have to say it's Monaco. The place where I was born. It's small here and the races take place within the streets where I took the bus to school. Now I race there at a speed of 300 km / h" said Leclerc in an interview for Scuderia Fans.

 

Source: Getty Images/Clive Mason-Staff

 

Leclers, either directly or indirectly, raced five in his home country five time. But he never finished them. He was eliminated twice in the junior races, twice as an F1 driver. Then there are last year's races, which did not take place due to the pandemic, and last year, although he won the pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix, he did not start due to a technical problem.

 

The only Monacan in history who managed to win the domestic Monaco Grand Prix was Louis Chiron in 1931, who led the Bugatti to victory.

 

"My next goal is to be the world champion. I drive a Ferrari so I can't really have any other goals. Ferrari must win," Leclerc said in an interview with Formula 1. The fact that Charles Leclerc is a great talent was also confirmed by other pilots. "It's great to see Charles grow up. He will become a leader in a phenomenal team. Of course, they [team Ferrari] have had a difficult time, but they came out stronger" Lewis Hamilton told PlanetF1. Charles Leclerc won the inaugural race of the new season - the Bahrain Grand Prix.

 

In his second race at the Saudi Grand Prix, Leclerc finished in second place, where he was overtaken by reigning world champion Max Verstappen. Although Monocan did not get the pole position before the start, he was starting from the second place.

 

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Thumbnail: Gettty images / Peter J Fox
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