Charles Leclerc Profile
Charles Leclerc is a Monegasque Formula 1 driver who was born in Monte Carlo, Monaco on 16 October 1997. Already in his young career, Leclerc is being touted as a future World Champion.
Leclerc began his F1 career in 2018 - a hot prospect who had won the GP3 and F2 titles back-to-back, Sauber would be his first destination, making his debut at the 2018 Australian Grand Prix.
Leclerc was initially brought in by Ferrari as a No.2 driver but soon shook off that tag. He instantly took the fight to Vettel and finished the 2019 season with more wins, poles and points than the four-time World Champion.
His seven pole positions in 2019 also made him the youngest and first non-Mercedes winner of F1's Pole Trophy.
Leclerc's godfather is Jules Bianchi who tragically lost his life to injuries he sustained at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix - Bianchi, like Leclerc, also came into F1 as part of the Ferrari Driver Academy.
Charles's younger brother Arthur now also serves as an Academy driver for Ferrari. Just when one was proving a challenge, now Vettel possibly two Leclerc's to keep an eye on.
Interestingly Leclerc's favourite number is seven - sadly that had been taken already in F1 by Raikkonen, while his second choice, the number 10, is used by his good friend Pierre Gasly.
In the end he would settle on 16, since one and six add up to the value of seven.
Charles Leclerc Career
As a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, Leclerc's stock was already high as he plotted a route into F1, but when he claimed the 2018 F2 Championship, just a year after doing the same in GP3, he became one of the hottest properties outside of F1.
It wasn't too surprising, then, when he was snapped up by Alfa Romeo Sauber, a team who had links with Ferrari, to race alongside Marcus Ericsson.
Leclerc was the first Monegasque driver to race in F1 since Olivier Beretta in 1994, and P6 at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix would make him only the second points scorer in F1 to hail from the country.
Leclerc was comfortably the stand-out performer at Alfa Romeo Sauber against Ericsson, claiming 39 points to finish P13 in the Drivers' Championship.
As well as in Azerbaijan, he would score points at rounds in Spain, Canada, France, Austria, Singapore, Russia, Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
That form was enough to earn Ferrari's trust, and they made an uncharacteristic decision to trust youth, promoting Leclerc to race alongside Vettel for 2019, while Raikkonen would head the other way taking Leclerc's seat at the team now known as Alfa Romeo.
Leclerc started the season where Raikkonen left off as No.2 driver to Vettel. Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto made it clear that in 50/50 situations, the team would back their four-time World Champion.
Already, though, at the season-opener in Melbourne, Leclerc was all over his illustrious team-mate but he respected Ferrari's orders not to overtake and instead back off.
At the next round in Bahrain he would put his SF90 on pole, setting a new track record, and became the youngest Ferrari pole-sitter.
He would lead the majority of that race, but due to his engine dropping a cylinder because of a failed fuel injector he was forced to settle for P3 - little comfort, but it was his first F1 podium.
Ferrari returned with team orders again in China, ordering Leclerc to let Vettel back through after passing him at the start, while Azerbaijan then marked the start of a sticky patch for Leclerc.
The pace was there for Leclerc to take pole, but a Q2 crash saw him throw away that opportunity, while at his home race in Monaco, Leclerc responded to Ferrari's failed strategy which saw him eliminated in Q1 by sending his car around the street circuit like it was bumper cars.
That approach indeed ended in disaster when he ploughed into Nico Hulkenberg.
Leclerc would take a marked step forward though at the Austrian GP, qualifying on pole and leading most of the race before Max Verstappen took the win with a robust overtake.
The Scuderia had their eyes set on the two races to come though after the summer break - at Spa and Monza.
Both tracks seemed perfect for the SF90's low drag profile, and that's exactly how it turned out as Leclerc took pole and the wins at both venues, his first taste of victory in F1.
The win in Belgium was particularly emotional following the F2 crash that had killed his childhood friend Anthoine Hubert earlier that weekend.
Leclerc extended his run of consecutive poles to four in Singapore and Russia, but further questionable strategy calls from Ferrari cost him in the race on both occasions.
The rocky relationship between Leclerc and Vettel in their first year together would be capped off in style at Interlagos when the German cut across his team-mate after making the overtake, causing race-ending damage for both.
Overall though it was a solid first season in Ferrari red for Leclerc as his two wins and ten podiums helped him to P4 in the Drivers' Championship with 264 points.
It would be just the one win and eight podiums for Vettel, who ended the year 24 points behind his team-mate, meaning Leclerc had become the first of Vettel's team-mates to beat him since Daniel Ricciardo managed it in 2014.
Charles Leclerc Before F1
Charles Leclerc was a serial winner in his formative karting years, winning the French PACA Championship in 2005, 2006 and 2008 before becoming French Cadet champion in 2009.
In 2010 he lifted the Junior Monaco Kart Cup and a year later won CIK-FIA KF3 World Cup, the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy and the ERDF Junior Kart Masters whilst also becoming a part of the All Road Management company, owned by Nicolas Todt.
He won the WSK Euro Series title in 2012 after stepping up to the KF2 category and his final year of karting in 2013 saw him finish second in the CIK-FIA World KZ Championship, behind Max Verstappen.
Leclerc then progressed from the Formula Renault 2.0 Alps Series with Fortec Motorsports - finishing P2 in the standings - to the Formula 3 European Championship with Van Amersfoort Racing before joining the Ferrari Driver Academy in 2016, a year which marked the start of back-to-back title successes for the Monegasque.
Leclerc claimed the GP3 series title with ART, finishing 25 points clear of current Red Bull driver Alexander Albon and followed up a year later with Formula 2 success as a runaway champion driving for ART.
Those two trophy successes acted as a catalyst in Leclerc's meteoric rise through the ranks, with Ferrari seeing more than enough to boost Leclerc into a Formula 1 seat with feeder team Sauber, now known as Alfa Romeo.
Charles Leclerc Net Worth
Charles Leclerc was believed to be earning in the region of £2.6million a year after he earned a call-up to the main Ferrari team to replace Kimi Raikkonen ahead of the 2019 season, somewhat shy of team-mate Sebastian Vettel's estimated annual salary of £34million.
While still nowhere near close matching Vettel's salary, Leclerc's stellar first season with Ferrari led to him signing a new long-term deal with improved terms over the winter of 2019 which will expire at the end of the 2024 season.
Although still in the embryonic stages of his Formula 1 career, Leclerc's rising reputation has seen him land some lucrative sponsorships so far with the likes of Italian luxury clothing brand Dsquared2, while Swiss luxury watchmaking brand Richard Mille has been a long-time backer of Leclerc throughout his junior ranks.
Leclerc has also launched his own karting company to help give more opportunities to the potential next generation of Formula 1 superstars.
Charles Leclerc Family
Charles Leclerc's father, Herve, was an ex-Formula 3 racing driver before coming an integral part of Charles' karting career. His father sadly passed in 2017 at the age of 54 following a battle with a long illness, Charles' response was to win the Formula 2 feature race in Baku just days later.
Charles was also forced to deal with more family tragedy two years prior when his godfather, Jules Bianchi, succumbed to his injuries after spending nine months in a coma as a result of his horrific crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
"The loss of my father and Jules were two incredibly hard moments in my life that made me stronger as a person and a driver," Leclerc told The Guardian.
"Mentally I am stronger than I used to be. They definitely stay with you forever. Unfortunately I lost my father quite early, it changes you. It changes you forever."
Charles is the middle of three brothers with Lorenzo being the eldest and Arthur being the youngest. Arthur is hoping to follow his brother's footsteps after joining the Ferrari Driver Academy himself in 2020.
Charles was in a long-term relationship with Giada Gianni, but their four-year romance ended in 2019 with Charles reportedly deciding to split.
Gianni announced their split via an Instagram video, saying: "Charles left me. He wants to devote himself only to Ferrari."