Charles Leclerc

Points 0 Position 6 Date of Birth October / 16 / 1997
Place of Birth Monte Carlo Team Ferrari Car Number 16

Profile

Charles Leclerc is a Monegasque Formula 1 driver who was born in Monte Carlo, Monaco on 16 October 1997.

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.

A strong rookie year earned him a swift promotion to Ferrari alongside Sebastian Vettel, replacing veteran Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen.

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.

2020 was a much more frustrating season for Ferrari with their engine severely lacking power, but Leclerc still put in strong performances including two podium finishes inside the opening four races.

He dropped to eighth in the Drivers' Championship, though finished way ahead of team-mate Vettel, emphasising his driving ability despite operating a below-par car.

The following season again saw Ferrari go winless as they tried to recover from their secret engine agreement. With just one podium to his name, Leclerc finished 5.5 points behind his new team-mate Carlos Sainz.

But with 2022 and its all-new regulations came renewed hope for Ferrari and their drivers. Leclerc's season got off to a flying start with two wins in three races but, only able to add two more in the remaining 19 races, he had to settle for runner-up in the championship.

It was still a vast improvement on his previous seasons, though with 2023 also failing to produce a title-worthy Ferrari for Leclerc, it proved to be a further season of frustration.

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.

Interestingly Leclerc's favourite number is seven - which had been taken 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.

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.

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 after the summer break - Belgium and Italy.

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 on-track 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 10 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.

Leclerc was again well on top of Vettel in 2020, though it was much more of a struggle for Ferrari who offered their drivers cars with a far inferior engine to the one which they had in the year prior.

Leclerc still performed well given his machinery, however, regularly making Q3 throughout the campaign, much more often than his team-mate Vettel. In fact, he finished 64 points better off in the standings.

Carlos Sainz joined Ferrari in Vettel's place for 2021 and, while Leclerc largely did better in the qualifying and race head-to-heads between the pair, Sainz's consistency and four podium finishes ensured Leclerc was beaten by his team-mate over the course of the season for the first time in his Formula 1 career.

Leclerc did have his fair share of bad luck in there, though, most notably not being able to start his home race in Monaco - after putting it on pole - when he tagged the rear of his car while driving to the grid. He took another sensational pole in Azerbaijan in a Ferrari that should not have challenged Mercedes and Red Bull.

He was able to get on the podium with a P2 finish at Silverstone in 2021, with a victory cruelly denied late on by a charging Lewis Hamilton.

2022 was a much better season for the Monégasque driver, in fact his best to date. He got off to a perfect start with two wins in three races to lead the Drivers' standings after the Australian Grand Prix. However, plagued by reliability issues and hampered by poor strategy calls from the Ferrari pit wall he found himself the chaser just three races later as Max Verstappen came to the fore.

Although he added a third win to his tally, P1 at the Austrian Grand Prix, a crash while leading at the French Grand Prix effectively ended his challenge. He would go onto finish runner-up in the standings.

But while that, and the three wins in one season, are Leclerc's best stats ever, it was a season he'll look back on wondering what could have been.

Leclerc wanted no repeat of this mindset in 2023, Ferrari's pre-season hype fuelling hope that the SF-23 would be the one to put Leclerc in a sustained title challenge, but this did not prove to be the case.

With two DNFs in the opening three rounds, Leclerc's season finally got going with a P3 in Baku, where he claimed pole position for both the sprint and Azerbaijan Grand Prix. 2023 though marked a continuation of the trend that saw Leclerc struggling to turn poles into wins against the near-unstoppable Red Bull RB19 over a race distance.

Leclerc scored five further podium results across the campaign, three of those P2s, with a final pole position tally of five, as his team-mate Sainz scored Ferrari's only win of the season in Singapore, the only non-Red Bull victor.

Nonetheless, Leclerc edged the Spaniard in the final Championship standings, with 206 points to Sainz's 200.

History

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.

Networth

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.

With his Ferrari contract set to expire at the end of 2024 season, Leclerc signed a bumper extension which has the possibility to run all the way through until the end of 2029 season. He is expected to earn in the region of $38million a year on his new deal.

According to Forbes, in 2023 he raked in $19 million with a salary of $14m and bonuses worth $5m, a drop of $4m compared to his 2022 figures.

Leclerc's rising reputation has seen him land some lucrative sponsorships with the likes of Italian luxury clothing brand Giorgio Armani and sunglasses brand Ray-Ban, while Swiss luxury watchmaker Richard Mille has been a long-time backer of Leclerc throughout his junior ranks.

Leclerc has also launched his own karting company in association with Birel ART to help give more opportunities to the potential next generation of Formula 1 superstars.

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 began dating architecture student Charlotte Sine in 2019 with their relationship made headlines when she had to subscribe to his Twitch account in order to attract his attention while streaming to let her into the apartment.

The couple announced in December 2022 that it was over, asking the public to respect their privacy.

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