Charles Leclerc first rode a go-kart at the age of four and was addicted to the thrill of speed after taking his first lesson with his French godfather and driver Jules Bianchi.
But the financial support required for motorsport racing was an additional hurdle, and over the years his family was no longer able to afford the cost of the competition. That’s when manager Nicolas Todt stepped in, facing Leclerc in 2012 and paying for his next season.
These days, the 23-year-old is keeping a close eye on his younger brother Arthur Leclerc, a promising driver three years his junior, who recently joined the Ferrari Driver Academy and claimed his first F3 victory at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Even though Leclerc celebrates his brother’s success, his protective instincts trump his ability to fully embrace his pursuit of the sport.
“I’m 10 times more stressed when he’s the one running than when I’m running, because when I have the helmet I don’t think about the danger of the sport,” he says.
“But every time I see it from the outside, I start to think about all the bad scenarios that can happen,” he adds.
Ultimately, the foundation of their relationship lies off the track. “Whenever he needs help he knows I’m there for him and he can call me anytime […] but most of the time we just talk about our lives, just like normal brothers will. ”
Growing up in Monaco
He is one of the country’s 10,000 inhabitants and comes from more humble beginnings than the majority of the population, many of whom are millionaires drawn by the tax status of the city-state of the Côte d’Azur.
The motor racing star is not jaded by opulence, but rather exhibits a sense of gratitude and humility. “From the outside, I don’t think it gives the same image as I have of my own city.”
“I have all my friends, all my family, and there aren’t all those glamorous parts, that partying side. Of course, there is also that side of Monaco, but I don’t feel it when I go there. am, it’s more relaxing. ”
Known for its narrow and winding layout, the circuit has been a technically difficult competition since it first appeared on the F1 calendar in 1950. Past winners include sports legends such as Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Graham Hill.
Leclerc says his education in Monaco was key to his F1 career as he learned the merit of working hard and respecting others. “These two values are probably the most important.”
“Monaco has given me most of the values that I try to share in Formula 1. I’m just very, very proud and very happy to be born there.”
Learn from other athletes
As someone who wants to reach the top of his sport, Leclerc says he admires his fellow athletes who can show their ability to excel, including Juventus and Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
“He gave us some advice […] as an athlete. The way he’s preparing, et cetera, which was very, very interesting, “said Leclerc.
“Then we had fun driving cars. But we didn’t talk too much about work, it was more about having fun.”
When asked if Ronaldo was unfazed during his ride, Leclerc laughed. “Yeah, well, brave I wouldn’t go that far, but I’m sure he enjoyed it. I think he was pretty impressed with how fast these cars go.”
Nonetheless, he has a deep respect for the global icon. “He’s a football legend, but not only (that). I think for every athlete we are all very impressed with him […] he’s an incredible athlete. ”
Fight for victory
Leclerc is cautiously optimistic about his prospects for the remainder of the season, acknowledging that Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen are the two most vying competitors to dominate the standings in 2021.
“I’m not frustrated, but I want to be back in the fight with the best guys like we were in 2019. So there’s a lot of motivation for the whole team because we don’t want Ferrari to fight. for fifth or sixth place. place, “he said.
“But on the other hand, it’s great to finally see a two-team fight for a world title. I think people are enjoying it.”
Staged behind closed doors in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Leclerc impatiently awaits the return of spectators to the event.
“It’s amazing to finally see life back to normal a little bit. It’s been a long time and it’s great to feel the passion of the fans,” he said.
“I don’t know how involved we will be with the fans and how close we will be to them because of the bubble we’re in. But we at least feel the support in the stand to see them while we drive, it’s amazing. “
“We are more or less the same age, we have the same interests, we play the same sports,” he says. “We are having good times, but we also work very well with the team in difficult times. […] to try to come together. “
Leclerc says Ferrari is focused on the prospect of the 2022 season with the promise of a new car, while “trying to work as hard as possible” between races.
“A lot of the guys at home are focused on the 2022 car, which will be a huge opportunity for us, but it will be very, very important for the years to come, because it’s a whole new car,” Leclerc said.
“And so there is also a part of the team that is still focusing on this year […] it is therefore a good balance.
“These are small steps in the right direction, but they are going in the right direction, which is very, very important.”
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