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 sporting present as he won two of the three dates played this season and is a solid leader of the Formula 1 championship. His successes excite Ferrari, which after several years was back ahead.
Leclerc came into the world on October 16, 1997. He inherited his passion for motorsport from his father, Hervé, who between 1983 and 1988 raced 22 races in Formula 3. He then accompanied his young son in his sports career. The beginnings were on the track of his French friend, Philippe Bianchi, in Brignoles, a town located between Marseille and Nice. Philippe was the father of Jules, also 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. Then, Jules Bianchi spoke with his manager, Nicolas Todt, head of All Road Management, a company that represents pilots. He is the son of Jean Todt, who was the sporting director of Ferrari's most glorious stage between 2000 and 2004, with the five titles in a row by Michael Schumacher.
The Frenchman presided over the International Automobile Federation (FIA) for a decade. The 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. Well, he answered and in 2011 he won 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 was telling my father that I was too sick to go to school, to make him take me to karting. I drove until I ran out of fuel and, on the way home, I told 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 victories. I can only win, to make sure he's still smiling. My father and Jules always taught me to keep my feet on the ground and not stop trying. I think they would be proud to see me now,” he added.
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 great learning and runners-up in European and world championships, behind a Dutch boy named Max Verstappen. In those times the great duel that Máxima has today was born. In 2014 he had his first year racing with monopostos, in which he was runner-up in Formula Renault 2.0 Alps, behind another Dutchman, Nick de Vryes.
But that year he also began to experience one of his great personal strokes. His great friend Jules, who was already a member of the Ferrari Drivers' Academy and was an F1 racer, crashed into a tow truck trying to recall German Adrian Sutil's car in Suzuka, Japan. The race should have been neutralized earlier... Due to the consequences of the coup, on July 17, 2015, young Bianchi died. That fact marked him. Although Charles continued and that season was fourth in the European Formula 3 championship and second in the Macau Grand Prix, one of the three most important in the specialty together with the Zandvoort Master, in the Netherlands, and the Monaco GP, where his father raced. For its merits and also for the references given by the remembered Jules, Ferrari incorporated it into its program of young drivers. In 2016 he won the GP3 title (now Formula 3). While in 2017, a few months before he was crowned in Formula 2, another terrible loss came...
His father Hervé, barely 54 years old, was very ill. In his last days he went to visit him and told him a pious lie: “Dad, I'm going to race in Formula 1 in 2018″. His father passed away on June 20, 2017 and at that time Charles had no contract signed with any Máxima team for the following year. He just wanted to bring him happiness in his last hours. Although in fact it was brought forward, since at the end of that season its arrival was confirmed Alfa Romeo, La Rossa satellite team. “I've never gotten over it, maybe I never will. But I never had any doubts about continuing. All I ever wanted was to run,” Charles said of his father's passing.
Already in F1, in 2018 she stood out for her regularity and talent. It was a strong letter from Ferrari to the future. On March 17, 2019, at the age of 21 and 152 days, he became the second youngest and most inexperienced driver to make his debut in Ferrari, behind the Mexican Ricardo Rodríguez when he raced in 1961 at 19 years and 208 days. That year Leclerc took the place of Finnish Kimi Räikkönen, no less, the last champion with the Italian team, back in 2007.
In his debut season with Ferrari, Charles outperformed his teammate, German Sebastian Vettel, in performance. On the second date in Bahrain he won the first of his eleven pole positions in F1. In the 2019 and 2020 global 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 Hubert, a Formula 2 driver, who died in an accident at one of the races at Spa-Francorchamps, the day before Charles won his first victory in the Maxima, which he did not celebrate on the podium in recognition of the French competitor.
On the other hand, if he were not a pilot, perhaps Charles, because of his image, could well have been a model or actor. She 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 is following in his footsteps and now runs in F3, where Argentinian Franco Colapinto also competes. The oldest, Lorenzo (33), works in a company that advises investments. Charles lives in Monte Carlo with his girlfriend, Charlotte Sine, also Monegasque, 22 years old and model and influencer.
Returning to sports, Leclerc put the Ferrarist public in his pocket since his first season, as he won two emblematic circuits such as Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, where Scuderia had not celebrated a home victory since 2010, when Fernando Alonso won. Charles proves that he is not only wordy and fast. He's got pasta and a temper. In that Italian race, the Englishman Lewis Hamilton knew how to stand up, in a maneuver to the limit prevailing against the Mercedes driver when he reached one of the chicanes of Monza.
From 2014, when he started in monoposts until his last race this weekend, Leclerc has a total of 178 competitions, 20 victories, 27 pole positions, 20 lap records and 58 podiums (almost three per race). He is part of a generation of young people who tread 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 was able to take advantage of it very well and achieved two wins, on the first date held 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. He succeeded. He also dreamed of his son being 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 wear the crown. It will be that indeclinable happy ending of this fairy tale.