[F1 2019 VIDEO FEATURE] CHARLES LECLERC: A STAR IS BORN

Bahrain ended as a nightmare for Charles Leclerc. The Monégasque came of age at Sakhir, securing his maiden pole position in the sport, before a gut-wrenching cylinder failure 11 laps from the flag robbed him of the maiden win he so richly deserved.

There’s no doubt the 21-year-old has now arrived, if the switch to Ferrari gear didn’t make that clear enough – Leclerc demonstrating all race long he’s a future world champion, and for the Prancing Horse, a truly iconic marque he long dreamed of racing for… 

SOUNDBITE (English) CHARLES LECLERC,
F1 DRIVER, FERRARI:
“Ferrari has always been a very special place for me because for years I’ve been a part of the FDA that helped me to build as a driver, mentally and physically. And with the ultimate goal to join their team, which happened this year and which is a dream come true.”

But beyond the irrepressible performance, team principal Mattia Binotto is far more impressed by Leclerc’s work behind the scenes.

“He is very involved, pushing the engineers hard, to try to get them to improve themselves and to have a better car,” he said.

And that’s the hallmark of a champion, one who inspires all those around to raise their game, each contributing to the team’s goal.

An ethos demonstrated by eventual Bahrain winner 5-time F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who last year recognised the immense depth of Leclerc’s talent, at Sauber in his rookie season.

SOUNDBITE: (English), LEWIS HAMILTON:5-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“He's got great potential, Leclerc. He is a great driver, he’s doing [an] amazing [job] in the team [and] in the car that he has. And [Ferrari] it's a great opportunity for him to thrive. But I think, naturally, comes a lot of pressure when you go into a top team like that. But, I think, I think he'll do well.”

And the writing is on the wall, with Leclerc, the youngest driver at Ferrari since Ricardo Rodríguez in 1961, having outclassed his 4-time F1 World Champion teammate Sebastian Vettel.

But the German didn’t take anything from him post-race…  

“I think it was his race to take today,” Vettel said. “I’m unhappy for him and for the team, a disappointing day overall.”

And for now, Leclerc is playing the team game; showing Vettel the respect he deserves as a champion racer.

SOUNDBITE (English) CHARLES LECLERC,
F1 DRIVER, FERRARI:
“He has a lot of experience in the sport. And I can definitely learn a lot from him. So it will be a big challenge for me. But I think the most important is that we work together to try and achieve the best results possible for the team, which I’m pretty sure we will.”

Leclerc’s time is coming, though, and lots of pundits are expecting things to blow up in the not-too-distant future…

SOUNDBITE (English) NICO ROSBERG,
2016 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“We can all look forward to watching that battle, its going to be
absolutely amazing I'm pretty sure. And first of all, how does Ferrari manage it internally, they haven't had such a situation since eleven years, when they last had Felipe [Massa] against Kimi [Räikkönen]” 

SOUNDBITE (English) DAMON HILL,
1996 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“Outside bets for a championship, you’d have to say Charles Leclerc because the Ferrari is looking very good and he’s a very, very good driver, a newcomer to Ferrari. Could surprise us. I’d be surprised if he in his first season at Ferrari he did better than Sebastian Vettel, but it’s not impossible.”

With the 1000th Formula 1 Grand Prix in China fast approaching, there’s much to look forward to on the continued fight for glory at Ferrari.