What To Expect From Ferrari's New F1 Star
Autosport|February 15,2018

New Sauber recruit Charles Leclerc romped to the 2017 Formula 2 title.Alex Kalinauckas explains what he will bring to the F1 grid.

Charles Leclerc is confident, yet humble. Excitable, yet focused. Riding the crest of a wave all the way to Formula 1. He spent much of 2017 building momentum in a sensational rookie Formula 2 campaign, while often being spotted playing football or tennis next to the paddock-parked trucks. In short, he’s a special and likeable talent. After claiming seven wins and eight poles on his way to the F2 crown, as well as making four FP1 appearances for Sauber last yea ar, Leclerc was signed as a race driver for the Swiss squad in 2018.

Leclerc has been backed by Ferrari since 2016; Sauber will run the Italian marque’s up-to-date F1 power units this year, while the team has a major new brand partnership with Alfa Romeo. So, just like his friend and mentor Jules Bianchi in ’13, Leclerc is Ferrari’s latest upcoming star preparing to take their F1 bow.

“It’s unbelievable, first of all,” he explains. “To arrive in F1 is crazy because it’s a dream come true, and then to arrive with the return of Alfa Romeo, which is such a historic name, is just great. Then, on the other side, I’m not putting additional pressure on myself – the goal for me will be exactly the same as the other years: give the best of myself and try to bring the best results possible home.”

SPEED AND DETERMINATION

Helpfully for Leclerc, his focused approach is paired with a combination of searing pace and steely determination. After clinching pole at the F2 season opener he faded to third in the feature race, but then charged to a maiden second-tier win in the sprint event and improved his tyre-management skills to score four of the next five race-one wins.

“To work with, he’s quite a good guy – Charles is very open,” says Guillaume Capietto, technical director at Prema, which clearly adored having Leclerc in its ranks in 2017. “It was a very good year in terms of atmosphere. He’s more cool and when there is a mistake he takes a lot on his side, even when sometimes it’s not fully his side he says, ‘OK, it’s my fault and I go [and work] on it.’”

Leclerc’s analytical approach was also a strength in 2017. Prema team boss Rene Rosin recalled him asking for feedback on where he could improve despite only a harsh 10-second time penalty scuppering a weekend double in Baku. At the season finale in Abu Dhabi, he forensically explained how he’d missed out on pole by focusing on the first sector at the expense of tyre life later on in the lap.

PACE IN THE WET

Rain is something of a machinery leveller in motorsport, and it o en helps the truly great drivers show o their skills.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM AUTOSPORTView All

Derani Shows Extreme Speed When It Counts

The Brazilian was the hero for the ESM squad as he moved to the front and stretched his late lead with the team’s Onroak-Nissan.

6 mins read
Autosport
March 22,2018

Vergne Masters The Sands Of Time

He was far from the finished Formula E article when he joined the series in 2014, but the Techeetah star drove a defensive masterclass in Uruguay.

8 mins read
Autosport
March 22,2018

The Superstar Racing Junkie

Fernando Alonso’s bid on the Le Mans 24 Hours and WEC with Toyota is about much more than gunning for motorsport’s triple crown. It’s because he’s passionate about racing.

6 mins read
Autosport
March 22,2018

It's Only A Matter Of Time Before It Rises Again

Red Bull won four consecutive world championships in the V8 era but has beena bit-part player since 2014. Can the team deliver on its ambition now?

9 mins read
Autosport
March 22,2018

Why Alonso Fuji date Change had to happen

Why Alonso Fuji date Change had to happen

4 mins read
Autosport
February 15,2018

Under The Skin Of F1 Testing

Pre-season testing is fraught with tension for the Formula 1 teams. Here Gary Anderson explains how they prepare for and carry out the initial running of their new cars – fingers crossed, of course.

9 mins read
Autosport
February 15,2018

Thrown In At The Deep End

Stuart Middleton won a cameo drive in the Daytona 24 Hours with success in the Sunoco Whelen Challenge. It turned into something bigger than anyone expected.

3 mins read
Autosport
February 15,2018

The Big Questions

The latest Formula 1 machines will hit the track in the coming weeks. TV pundit and ex-F1 racer Karun Chandhok tackles the key issues ahead of the new season.

10+ mins read
Autosport
February 15,2018

No Haloes Here: Indycar Aeroscreen Hits Track

No Haloes Here: Indycar Aeroscreen Hits Track

3 mins read
Autosport
February 15,2018

How Do You Run An Old F1 Car?

Some historic racers employ big teams to run their cars, but it is possible for smaller operations to compete in F1 machinery, as Rod Jolley shows.

6 mins read
Autosport
February 15,2018