The story of Charles Leclerc, the poor young man from Monaco who became the threat of Verstappen and Hamilton in Formula 1

Charles Leclerc with the steering wheel-shaped trophy he won after winning in Australia (@F1)

It is often said that fairy tales have happy endings. Charles Leclerc was born in La Condamine, one of the three cities that make up the Principality of Monaco. Although his life was marked by three losses of loved ones, he lives a dream sports present since he won two of the three dates played this season and is a solid leader of the championship of the Formula 1. His successes excite ferrariwhich after several years returned to be ahead.

Leclerc came into the world on October 16, 1997. He inherited his father’s passion for motorsports, Herve, who between 1983 and 1988 ran 22 Formula 3 competitions. Then he accompanied his young son in his sports career. The beginnings were on the track of his French friend, Philippe Bianche, in Brignoles, a town located between Marseille and Nice. Philippe was the father of Julesalso a pilot, eight years older than Charles, but with whom he became close friends.

In mid-2010, Hervé realized that he had no budget for his son to finish the karting season. So, Jules Bianchi talked to his manager, Nicholas Todd, owner of All Road Management, a company that represents drivers. He is the son of Jean Todt, who was the sports director of the most glorious stage of Ferrari between 2000 and 2004, with the five titles followed by Michael Schumacher.

Charles celebrates one of his victories in karting.
Charles celebrates one of his victories in karting.

The Frenchman chaired the International Automobile Federation (FIA) for a decade. Contacts were made and both Jules and Philippe interceded with Nicolas to help Charles financially. The “clinical eye” was there and the 250,000 euros arrived to keep the Monegasque boy in another international karting season. Boy did he reply and in 2011 it was consecrated in the main competition of the specialty, that of the International Karting Commission (CIK) of the FIA, that title that, for example, Ayrton Senna tried to win without luck until he was 22 years old.

“I told my father that he was too sick to go to school, to make him take me to go karting. I would drive until I ran out of fuel and on the way home I would tell him: ‘This is what I want to do,’ ” Leclerc said in a video reviewing his career for the official F1 website.

“When I finished second, my father wasn’t the happiest, so I focused on the wins. I only have to win, to make sure he’s still smiling. My father and Jules always taught me to keep my feet on the ground and never stop trying. I think they would be proud seeing me now,” he added.

Leclerc in the streets of Monaco, with his Ferrari for a ride.
Leclerc in the streets of Monaco, with his Ferrari for a ride.

As in fairy tales, Charles was a kind of male version of Cinderella, a commoner who began to move towards happiness. He continued in karting. 2012 and 2013 were years of much learning and runners-up in European and world championships, behind a Dutch boy named Max Verstappen. In those times the great duel that the Máxima has today was born. In 2014 he had his first year racing with monopostos, in which he was runner-up in the Formula Renault 2.0 Alps, behind another Dutchman, Nick de Vryes.

But that year he also began to live one of his great personal blows. His great friend Jules, who was already a member of the Ferrari Drivers’ Academy and was an F1 racer, had an accident against a crane that was trying to remove the German’s car Adrian Subtle in Suzuka, Japan. The race should have been neutralized before… Due to the consequences of the blow, on July 17, 2015, the young Bianchi died. That fact marked him. Although Charles continued and that season he was fourth in the European Formula 3 championship and second in the Macao Grand Prix, one of the three most important in the specialty along with the Zandvoort Master, in the Netherlands, and the Monaco GP, where his father ran. Due to his merits and also due to the references that the remembered Jules gave, Ferrari incorporated him into its program for young drivers. In 2016 he won the GP3 title (today Formula 3). While in 2017, a few months before being crowned in Formula 2, another terrible loss came…

Her father Hervé, barely 54 years old, was very ill. In his last days he went to visit him and told him a white lie: “Dad, I am going to race in Formula 1 in 2018″. His father passed away on June 20, 2017 and at that time Charles did not have any signed contract with any team in the Máxima for the following year. He just wanted to bring her happiness in his last hours. Although in reality he came forward, since at the end of that season the arrival of Alfa Romeo, a satellite team of La Rossa, was confirmed. “I’ve never gotten over it, maybe I never will. But I never had any doubts about continuing. All I’ve ever wanted was to run, ”said Charles on the death of his father.

Charles celebrates with his father Hervé, at the time of karting.  As he passed away in 2017 he was never able to show his dad the achievement of getting to F1, but he told him about it with a white lie.
Charles celebrates with his father Hervé, at the time of karting. As he passed away in 2017 he was never able to show his dad the achievement of getting to F1, but he told him about it with a white lie.

Already in F1, in 2018 he stood out for his regularity and talent. He was a strong letter from Ferrari to the future. On March 17, 2019, at the age of 21 years and 152 days, he became the second youngest and most inexperienced driver to debut at Ferrari.behind the Mexican Ricardo Rodriguez when he ran in 1961 with 19 years and 208 days. That year Leclerc took the place of the Finn Kimi raikkonenno less, the last champion with the Italian team, back in 2007.

In his debut season with Ferrari, Charles outperformed his teammate, the German Sebastian Vettel. On the second date in Bahrain he took the first of his eleven pole positions in F1. In the global of 2019 and 2020 he was more than the four-time German world champion and in 2021 he was the number one driver of the Scuderia with the departure of the German and the arrival of the Spaniard Carlos Sainz.

But in 2019 he also had his third loss which was that of his friend, Antoine HubertFormula 2 driver, who died in an accident in one of the races at Spa-Francorchamps, one day before Charles achieved his first victory in the Máxima, who did not celebrate on the podium in recognition of the French competitor.

Charles Leclerc and girlfriend
Charlotte Siné and Charles Leclerc (@charlottesiine)

On the other hand, If he wasn’t a pilot, maybe Charles, because of his image, could have been a model or an actor. He even likes fashion and music. He plays guitar and piano. He listens to all genres, except rap and classical music, but if he has to choose he stays with Coldplay. He has two brothers, the youngest, Arthur, 21, who follows in his footsteps and now races in F3, where the Argentine Franco Colapinto also competes. The oldest, Lorenzo (33), works in a company that advises investments. Charles lives in Monte Carlo with his girlfriend, Charlotte Siné, also a Monegasque, 22-year-old model and influencer.

Returning to sports, Leclerc got into the pocket of the Ferrari public from his first season, as he won two emblematic circuits such as Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, where the Scuderia had not celebrated a victory at home since 2010, when he won Fernando Alonso. Charles shows that he is not only neat and fast. He has dough and temperament. in that race Italian knew how to stand up to English Lewis Hamiltonin a maneuver to the limit prevailing against the Mercedes driver upon reaching one of the Monza chicanes.

Leclerc heading to victory in Melbourne, Australia (REUTERS / Martin Keep)
Leclerc heading to victory in Melbourne, Australia (REUTERS / Martin Keep) (MARTIN KEEP /)

Counting from 2014, when he started on monopostos until his last race this weekend, Leclerc has a total of 178 competitions, 20 wins, 27 pole positions, 20 lap records and 58 podiums (almost three per race). He is part of a generation of young people who are stomping like Verstappen himself (Red Bull / 24 years old), Lando Norris (McLaren / 22), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin / 23), Pierre Gasly (Alpha Tauri / 26), Alexander Albon (Williams / 26), George Russell (Mercedes / 24), Esteban Ocon (Alpine / 25) and Mick Schumacher (Haas / 23). They are the present and future of F-1.

So far this season, Ferrari is the one that best interpreted the new technical regulations and its F1-75 (name dedicated to the anniversary of its first sports car) is the most competitive car. Leclerc knew how to take advantage of it very well and achieved two wins, on the first date in Bahrain and this Sunday in Australia. In the second race held in Saudi Arabia he was second.

His father longed for him to reach the Maxima. She made it. He also dreamed that his son would be a world champion. Hervé can rest easy as Charles is on his way to being a number one. One day he will be the king of F1 and this year he is shaping up to take the crown. It will be that indeclinable happy ending of this fairy tale.


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