Charles Leclerc, come on down

Bayden Westerweller Roar Guru

By Bayden Westerweller, Bayden Westerweller is a Roar Guru

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    To those concerned that the hype surrounding Charles Leclerc was baseless following a scrappy start to his Formula One career, fear not, for his response has been nothing short of sensational.

    The Monegasque was exposed as he explored his limits at the opening three races, though points at the subsequent two events display that the 20-year-old is on a rapid development curve.

    Teammate Marcus Ericsson raised his game in the off-season, and the Swede’s points at Bahrain were a timely reminder to Leclerc that he will still have to earn his stripes, and his return service has been emphatic.

    His breakthrough performance to claim sixth at Azerbaijan was fortuitous, yet on the back of his qualifying effort to start 13th it equated to a richly deserved realisation of the potential which places him at Ferrari in the foreseeable future.

    It speaks to a consistency rare among rookies that his tenth place and solitary point at Spain last weekend following another strong Saturday that had him line up 14th was arguably more impressive in a race with far less divine intervention.

    Escaping the opening lap carnage, Leclerc assuredly defended advances from Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez for a large portion of the race, and while he was inevitably devoured by both, there were no irrational moves.

    Despite having every right to be content with the outcome, Leclerc told Sky Sports F1, “There are still things I could have done better”. In equal measure of his ambition is his humility, a refusal to expect points to follow at every race.

    Charles Leclerc on track at the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix.

    (AP Photo / Zhou Junxiang)

    “When you are last and second last, it is difficult. Even if you are doing an amazing job, it’s not like points are close … it’s always a very difficult position to be in,” he said, which shows he remains realistic, eschewing a complacency which would only set him up for disappointment.

    Earlier he refused to be unnerved by Kevin Magnussen during Friday practice when the Dane weaved across his path, ably detecting the tactics which have been brought into question in recent times, an intuition which will serve him well in the heat of combat.

    With this maturity and results to boot he’s already gone a long way towards commanding the respect of the established order, standing out among the rear of the field whose collective ability varies considerably.

    Feeding the narrative are the comparisons drawn to his fallen friend, Jules Bianchi, and a striking physical resemblance which causes many to double take. It’d be a trap to say that Leclerc is racing on Bianchi’s behalf, though he is undoubtedly on a path to fulfilling the prophecy which had the Frenchman earmarked for his own future at Maranello.

    Coupled with the tragic loss of his father less than 12 months ago, Leclerc has faced his share of adversity at a young age, and whether or not he channels these experiences into strength at the wheel, it equips him with a mental fortitude to handle difficult situations when points finishes become podium and victory contention.

    It’s too soon to be expecting Ayrton Senna or Lewis Hamilton-vintage performances and unfair to do so in his current machinery, yet the early signs are extremely encouraging that Formula One has unearthed the sort of future star that comes around only so often.

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    The Crowd Says (5)

    • May 15th 2018 @ 12:53pm
      Dexter The Hamster said | May 15th 2018 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

      Bayden, I must admit I am a fan of young Charles. Surely he will be in a Haas next year.

      • Roar Guru

        May 15th 2018 @ 7:13pm
        Bayden Westerweller said | May 15th 2018 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

        As long as Grosjean continues to make a meal of each weekend, a Leclerc promotion appears certain.

    • May 15th 2018 @ 4:03pm
      steve said | May 15th 2018 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

      I am quite impressed with him in the way that I am with Gasly also. I still don’t see Ferrari gambling on him just yet ( as in 2019 to replace Kimi ). I very much expect Leclerc to make a move to Haas in Grosjeans place for a year, more like two. A Danny Ric move to Ferrari for the next couple of years, and rumours of such, aren’t going away yet. FWIW, I think Ferrari need a guy like Daniel to help Vettel push them ahead of the Mercedes team. I very much expect that Leclerc does go to Ferrari, in a couple of years, just not yet.

      • Roar Guru

        May 15th 2018 @ 7:18pm
        Bayden Westerweller said | May 15th 2018 @ 7:18pm | ! Report

        They’ve both already justified their berths on the grid, though each would be served well not to be thrust into the big time too soon. Leclerc shouldn’t arrive at Ferrari any earlier than 2021 following two seasons at Haas – he’ll still be just 23, whilst Gasly should be cautious of the Kvyat experience so at least another season at Toro Rosso is logical.

    • Roar Guru

      May 15th 2018 @ 8:28pm
      Jawad Yaqub said | May 15th 2018 @ 8:28pm | ! Report

      I’m sure Ferrari won’t be too hasty in promoting him before 2021 at the earliest. A Haas berth in 2019 seems logical, unless by some miracle Romain Grosjean retains his seat there – though another season with a developing Sauber outfit could also be character building.

      It’s just great to see a young driver, who has genuinely gone up through the ranks of the junior formulae making an immediate impression in F1. Jolyon Palmer was a flop and there is concern that Stoffel Vandoorne might not be the real deal, so between Leclerc and Pierre Gasly – the future is encouraging.

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