After debut season with Sauber, Charles Leclerc has landed a seat with the most famous Formula One manufacturer in history in only his second season in F1. Can he establish himself amongst the front runners and possible spring a shock and win the F1 Drivers Championship?
Potential from an early age
Charles like many other drivers started his racing career in Karting and won the French Cadet Championship and many Karting titles in the years that followed. He then joined Formula Renault and experienced his first single seater championship on his journey to become a Formula One driver. In 2016 Charles became the GP3 Champion and in the same season was signed on to the illustrious Ferrari Drivers Academy which was a dream and would aid his development into Formula One. As part of his new role with Ferrari he become a development driver for Haas and Ferrari and got his first taste of a Formula One car when he participated in Practise One for the 2016 British Grand Prix for Haas Formula One. In 2017 Charles was given the chance to finally drive the Ferrari as he took place in the mid-season test at the Hungaroring, finishing fastest on the first day of the test.
The return of Alfa Romeo
In July 2017 Sauber made a major announcement which was that they had signed a multi year agreement which would mean that they received up to date Ferrari engines for the 2018 season onwards. Later in 2017 Sauber also announced that they had signed a multi year technical and commercial partnership with Alfa Romeo and the team would now be named as Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team.
The significance of this led to Charles Leclerc getting his first full time F1 seat alongside Marcus Ericsson for the 2018 season which is a great achievement as the likelihood of a driver making it into F1 amounts to the same odds as visiting an online casino and betting everything you own on the roulette wheel. It meant that Charles could prove that he has what it takes to succeed.
A positive first season
After a steady start to the 2018 season it was at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku that Charles started 13th for Sunday’s race and after an inspired drive he managed to finish 6th in the race. Aged just 20 years old Charles had become only the second Monaco driver to score F1 points since Louis Chiron did so in the second ever F1 race back in 1950. In doing so he also won the fans voted “Driver of the day”. With his well earned 8 points added to the 2 points that Marcus Ericsson had from a previous race Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 team had 10 points which was twice as many as they had won during the entire 2017 season.
Throughout the season Charles out qualified his team mate which is always the first person you need to beat and points finishes followed in Spain, Canada, France, Austria, Singapore, Russia, Mexico, Brazil and bought his first season to an end with another 7th place finish at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Charles managed to finish 13th in the Drivers Championship with a total of 39 points compared to his team mates 9 points. This has led to widespread praise for Charles from the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel who believe he is the real deal and that coming from multiple world champions.
Realising a dream
In September 2018 Charles Leclerc realised a dream by being promoted to the Ferrari F1 team replacing former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen who went in the opposite direction to Alfa romeo F1 Racing team. This showed that Ferrari were confident that Charles has the potential to become a future F1 Champion and will share the team with lead driver Sebastian Vettel.
Charles Leclerc’s father has always had a dream that Charles would become an F1 World Champion and this is the first step in doing so and Charles is driven by this as his father Herve died in 2017 so never saw him drive as a full time Ferrari driver.
Could it really happen in 2019
It was expected that it may take time for Charles to get used too his new teams and the car and learn from his new team mate Vettel. During the race weekend at the start of the 2019 season at the Australian Grand Prix Charles qualified 5th and with a strong race he push his team mate all the way and seemed to have more pace that Vettel when team orders came in that he should not try and pass Vettel and finished 5th.
This was a real eye opener that Charles was going to be a real contender this season as he had the pace on his team mate in his first Grand Prix with the team.
Next up was the Bahrain GP and Charles finished qualifying in pole position to becoming the second youngest F1 pole sitter of all time and beating his team mate into second. Over the race weekend he showed pace that put him in a league of his own and controlled the race until the final 11 laps with a 10 second lead when an issue with his Ferrari engine meant he had to concede the lead to Lewis Hamilton but held on to claim his first podium finish in third place. With such a dominant race weekend sports betting makes interesting reading as he is now considered a real Championship contender in only his second F1 season.
The next two races have confirmed the Charles is in contention for the F1 Drivers Championship with 5th place in China and Azerbaijan and with the Ferrari looking incredibly quick he could be a good bet for the title. He currently stands in 5th place only 5 points behind his World Champion team mate Sebastian Vettel.
It’s not unheard to see new driver to Formula One managing to compete for the title which was proven by Lewis Hamilton who pushed his team mate Fernando Alonso all the way in the 2007 World Championship only to miss out too Kimi Raikkonen by two points.
It’s fair to say that Ferrari have proven in the early races that they have the car to challenge for the Championship and Charles Leclerc has also shown that he has the pace to beat the very best on the grid and make his dream of winning this year’s Championship come true.