In a season where the grid has many young and talented drivers like Max Verstappen, Lando Norris and George Russel, it’s pretty easy to forget the young Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc.
Ever since making his Formula One debut with Alfa Romeo(then known as Sauber) in 2018, Leclerc has shown again and again that he is capable of delivering exemplary results for the team, regardless of the machinery he has. And Leclerc reminded everyone just that by picking up P2 at the British Grand Prix. Leclerc took the lead after the first lap incident between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen and held onto it until the end when Hamilton overtook him with three laps to go. Even though he couldn’t get a victory, he did pick up his first podium of the season, which was a strong result for the team.
Leclerc had a very successful karting career, having won multiple championships at various levels of karting. He started his single-seater career in 2014 and won rookie of the year in both Formula Renault and FIA F3 championships. He then won both the GP3 series and the FIA F2 championship on his first try. All this success pulled him into Formula One in 2018.
Leclerc would make his debut for Sauber in 2018. Even though his car was one of the slowest cars on the track, Leclerc would constantly outperform his car and his teammate Marcus Ericsson. He reached Q3 eight times and scored points in 10 races in a car that wasn’t as good as he made it look.
Ferrari, having seen his potential at Sauber, signed Leclerc as the replacement for Kimi Raikkonen. Leclerc would impress everyone in his first season. Leclerc would get seven pole positions, most for any driver that season. He would also get ten podiums which included two victories at Spa and Monza. At the end of the season, he would finish fourth in the drivers’ championship, ahead of his teammate Sebastian Vettel.
The 2020 season was Ferrari’s worst season in 40 years, with their car being nowhere close to where it was the season before. Leclerc was limited by Ferrari’s car that season, but he still managed to outperform the car on multiple occasions. He would secure two podiums that season and would outscore his teammate, Vettel, by 65 points.
In the ten races so far this season, Leclerc has continued to show the rest of the grid that he has what it takes to be one of the best by taking pole positions in Monaco and Baku. He is currently 6th in the drivers’ championship in what has been a very competitive season so far.
Even though Leclerc is untested in a world championship fight in his F1 career, he has shown that he can win titles in karting and lower-levels of single-seater competition. There’s no reason to say that he cant go toe-to-toe with both Hamilton and Verstappen if they all had equal race cars. And with the 2022 season bringing new regulations and a completely new car for the entire grid, Leclerc might have a chance to compete for the title if Ferrari can deliver him a car good enough to go against the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull.
With whatever we have seen so far from Leclerc in his racing career, it’s safe to say that he looks every bit the champion in waiting and that the only thing that’s going to prevent him from winning the world championship is a lack of opportunity.