Do race wins, points scored and podiums collected alone describe your racing potential and define your racing pedigree; could there be something else too that defines your skill as a top brass Formula 1 driver?
If you are Charles Leclerc then perhaps the following instance suffices in establishing how strong is racing in one’s DNA:
You are a fine driver when you win races with a competitive car by your side. But you are Charles Leclerc when you can collect podiums whilst teaming alongside a multiple world champion who is struggling to get going, forget appearing anywhere close to the top five.
If there was one singular moment that encapsulated the spirit of being Charles Leclerc, Ferrari’s young hope to conquer Formula 1, once again, then it would have to be the 2019 Monza drive, where after taking pole, Leclerc defended against none other than Sir Lewis Hamilton.
But if there was one season that truly gave a reflection of the young Monegasque’s ultra competitiveness, despite knowing not an awful lot was going in his or his team’s favour then it was the truncated 2020 F1 season.
Despite having a car that was an uncompetitive and slow as a road car finding itself hard to manage a road stymied by incessant rains, Charles Leclerc collected not one but two podiums- one each at Austria and Britain- in 2020.
That’s when Vettel was finding it rather difficult to drive past the checkered flag to put an end to a race in the same car that Leclerc was excelling in.
This year, despite having bagged a solitary podium from eleven races, it’s not taken Charles Leclerc a lot to demonstrate great pace, especially in the qualifying runs, as understood from two dominant poles, one each at Azerbaijan and the other, at Monaco.
This is when his teammate, Carlos Sainz Jr., who’s scored 1 more podium than Charles, is yet to score a pole position in 2021.
What keeps Charles Leclerc going, you’d say, is exactly the thing that propels him to yearn for great heights: the fact that he doesn’t take his place at the Scuderia stable for granted, understanding well that in order to succeed he has to excel in the scarlet red.
He recently shared about his time at Ferrari, his contract ensuring he’d get to drive until the completion of 2024 F1 season, which is three more years:
“I was comfortable from the beginning,” he said. He’d add, “I had a lot of things to learn, but it felt like I’d known them straight away – on the social relationships. Then to feel comfortable in the way such a big team works? Probably nearly a year I will say. Nearly a year to understand exactly the dynamics of the team, how you face issues, how you react to those problems. Yes, probably almost a year. It is a long time. Yes, yes, it is a very, very long time but it’s very, very interesting. To live it feels a lot shorter and you can feel all the steps and every time you are learning something and you apply it you are just getting a better understanding of how everything works,” concluded Leclerc.