Then came Baku, where everything clicked, and Leclerc has been on a roll pretty much ever since. Sixth place, his best result of the season, was somewhat flattered by retirements ahead of him – arguably some of his subsequent finishes were more impressive.
He reached Q3 for the first time in France, and impressed in the race by resisting pressure from Romain Grosjean’s faster Haas. A single point was his reward.
In Russia a superb, attacking first lap got him ahead of Ocon and Magnussen, clearing the way for him to lead the midfield home for the first time. He repeated the feat in Mexico with another seventh place, and made it three-in-a-row at Yas Marina after daringly taking on the Red Bull drivers at the start.
|Beat team mate in qualifying||17/21|
|Beat team mate in race||9/13|
|Laps spent ahead of team mate||664/920|
|Qualifying margin||-0.431s (adjusted)|
He out-scored Ericsson 39-9 despite bearing the brunt of the team’s problems on race day. Such as the brake failure which sent him into the back of Brendon Hartley in Monaco, or the botched pit stop when he was in the hunt for ‘best of the rest’ honours at Silverstone.
By the time he was announced as a Ferrari driver ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix. Leclerc he was out-qualifying Ericsson by seven-tenths of a second. And the surprising thing about that is it wasn’t surprising any more. Leclerc was over four-tenths of a second quicker than his team mate on average over the season, the widest margin of any driver.
Perhaps the best barometer of how much Leclerc impressed is that he convinced Ferrari to break with a long tradition of hiring older, experienced drivers and take a risk on this bright new talent for 2019. Those in the know are very excited about what he’s capable of.
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Once he found his feet in Baku, he completely destroyed his more experienced teammate. Fantastic debut season.
What’s your verdict on Charles Leclerc’s 2018 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.
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