Despite his recent graduation to Formula 1, Charles Leclerc has quickly established himself as one of the fiercest competitors in the sport. He combines charm and good looks with a self-critical manner and isn’t afraid to take responsibility for any mistakes he makes on the racetrack.
By the time Leclerc lines up on the grid on the streets of Jeddah, for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, he’ll have four seasons of Formula 1 experience to draw on – and three of those will have been at the wheel of a Ferrari.
Given his success in the junior categories of motor sport, it was inevitable that Leclerc would go on to have a career in the top flight of Formula 1. Hailing from the Principality of Monaco, some of his earliest memories were hearing the sounds of racing cars through his bedroom window as the round-the-houses Monaco Grand Prix was taking place. Having grown up within a stone’s throw of the world-famous road race, there’s no doubt the 23-year-old will feel at home on the streets of Jeddah in December.
Leclerc began his karting career in 2005. He won the French Championship in his debut year, and the following season, and again in 2008. In 2010 he won the Junior Monaco Kart Cup and joined Nicholas Todt’s All Road Management company.
Nicholas (the son of FIA President Jean Todt) has managed many famous drivers in the recent past, including Ferrari-affiliated racers Felipe Massa and Jules Bianchi. The latter befriended Leclerc during their karting days and became his godfather, but sadly, Bianchi succumbed to the injuries he suffered during a crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
On more than one occasion, Leclerc has bravely competed in the wake of tragedy.
While racing to the Formula 2 crown in 2017, his father became ill and passed away on the eve of the race in Azerbaijan. Under difficult personal circumstances, Leclerc took pole position and victory which he dedicated to his late father.
With the F2 Championship secured, Leclerc graduated as a Ferrari Academy Driver to the Alfa Romeo team in Formula 1 for the start of 2018. He made such an impression during his debut season, that Ferrari gave him the prize of a lifetime and hired him for a full-time seat with the famous Scuderia for 2019.
The Monegasque quickly proved himself, taking a sensational pole position in qualifying for only his second Grand Prix with Ferrari. Before the end of the year, he had taken two victories with the first coming at the 2019 Belgian Grand Prix. Once again, tragedy had struck, as only the day before his friend Anthoine Hubert had been killed in the supporting Formula 2 race.
Just one week later, he had cemented his place as a legend in the eyes of the passionate tifosi with a brilliant and emotional home victory for Ferrari at the Italian Grand Prix. As an undoubted star of the future, could Leclerc be the driver to clinch Ferrari’s first World Championship since 2007?