Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

How Leclerc is adjusting to the pressures of life at Ferrari

2019 F1 season

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Formula 1’s newest star has joined its most famous team. This could be the start of something huge.

And Charles Leclerc admits he has already noticed a difference in how people react to him in his second year as an F1 driver now he is wearing Ferrari overalls.

“In my personal life last year in Monaco it was changing a little bit because obviously they see you as a Formula 1 driver and they know you a little bit,” he said when asked by RaceFans about adjusting to life at Ferrari.

“But I have to say that now being a Ferrari driver it’s a bit different in that sense especially in Italy because obviously there’s the whole Italy behind Ferrari. So it feels good.”

On his arrival in F1 last year Leclerc was joining the team who had finished last the previous year. Now he is in a car which, on the strength of the last two seasons, should be a title-contender.

And while Leclerc’s debut season was on the whole highly successful, he had a difficult start at the first few rounds. But he already feels much more comfortable in his new surroundings.

“Already it’s a different position I’m in because obviously last year when I arrived in winter testing I was coming from Formula 2 so the step was big.

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Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019
“Any time you are driving a Ferrari the expectations are big”
“Now it’s from a Formula 1 car to another Formula 1 car so obviously the step is is smaller. But I got used to it very, very quickly. I already feel quite at ease with the car.

“There’s still a lot of things that I need to get at ease with. But already the feeling is very good. It’s a car that is quite easy to drive.”

The early indication from testing is that Ferrari does indeed have another potential title-winner on its hands. Leclerc could be in a position to challenge for victories from the beginning of his second season.

How much is realistic to expect from him at this stage in his career? If he gets to the end of the season with just one victory to his name, would that be a triumph or a disappointment?

“It depends I guess where we are at the first race,” he explains.

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“Obviously if the car is capable to do more than that I will obviously be disappointed to only do one. But on the other hand winning a grand prix is a huge step and as I’ve said before there’s still a lot of work ahead myself to the first grand prix.

“So a lot of work is required by me before I arrive at this goal. We will see how the season goes.”

Leclerc’s policy for dealing with the peculiar pressures of life at Ferrari are to tune it out. “I’m focusing on myself trying to erase and delete what is everyone expecting from me,” he says.

“Obviously any time you are driving a Ferrari the expectations are big because it’s a it’s a top team and as you said it’s probably the most legendary Formula 1 team. So expectations are always high when you are driving for a team like this.

“But at the end I just need to focus on on myself. Putting pressure on myself won’t change anything, won’t make me perform better. If anything it will make me perform worse. So I don’t at all think about these things.”

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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24 comments on “How Leclerc is adjusting to the pressures of life at Ferrari”

  1. Obviously..

  2. what is it with Ferrari drivers and the word obviously?

    1. They’re required by the Tifoisi code of conduct to overstate the obvious just in case it’s too subtle for human comprehension. It’s not just the Tifoisi code – its usage is rampant in all sports, obviously.

      1. It’s “tifosi” @jimmi-cynic :)! From the typhus fever.

    2. I bet you’d have a word like that too if you’d be speaking another language.

    3. Magnus Rubensson (@)
      25th February 2019, 20:25

      It’s the 2019 version of “for sure”.

  3. When did “newest” become a proper English word to use…… should it not be “latest”?

    1. I like the question… but I doubt you’ll receive an answer here…

    2. I prefer “mostest new”

    3. @hansieslim “Newest” has been around a while. It is unclear if it’s been around as long as “new” (which would make it a valid word in English from before 900), but it is from the Proto-Germanic “neuja-“, which tended to have suffixes on it, so it’s entirely plausible that “newest” might have been in use for over 1000 years.

      Other words are are also used in this situation, “latest” (1590s in this context, but existing since the 1200s with the meaning “last in a defined sequence of things”) and “mostest new” (1848) being among them, but “newest” is a good choice in this context. That multiple words exist for a lot of different situations in English is why thesaurus sales tend to be solid.

      1. Well… ME of little faith… I like the answer.
        Here’s another question: Is English the only language to have a thesaurus…? And produced by the French…?

        1. Sanskrit was the first language to get a thesaurus that is still available to us today. That book is called the Amarakosha, written in the 4th century. The concept had existed in other languages for at least 300 years prior – the first we know of was in Phoenican, but it, along with at least 18 other thesauruses, have been lost.

          English got its first thesaurus that would nowadays still be called a thesaurus in 1858 (Roget’s thesaurus), though the term had been used for about 200 years previous to this for any dictionary-like reference (regardless of how the words were arranged).

          Italian definitely has at least one thesaurus (Dizionario dei Sinonimi e dei Contrari), French has Le Thésaurus, and I suspect many modern languages also have something akin to this. However, they don’t necessarily have a distinct word for “thesaurus”, having stuck to the definition Englished used before Roget’s thesaurus (the “any dictionary-like reference” one). To see if your preferred language has a thesaurus (or, more likely, how many exist), try putting “thesaurus of synonyms book” into an online translator, convert it to your desired language and then put that language’s word for itself at the end. If you don’t add “book”, you’ll almost certainly find the first half-dozen entries are actually online translators of various types. (For French, even that is not necessarily enough…)

      2. @alianora-la-canta Bravo! That really made me laugh! :O)

  4. If Ferrari has the best car this year I 100% except him to become World Champion. But if Mercedes is too close (or in front obviously) the battle between him and Seb could be a big problem, this situation really reminds me of 2007 for Lewis.

    1. @francorchamps17 But I guess we (obviously) don’t know a lot about the internal politics at Ferrari. What if Seb gets all the latest car updates first? That might impact Leclerc’s performance as compared to Seb and paint a wrong overall picture.

    2. @francorchamps17

      I think Leclerc will be relegated to a #2 driver regardless of how competitive Ferrari is. If it’s close between Mercedes and Ferrari (like last year), then Ferrari will favour one driver from race 1 onwards.

      If Ferrari is ahead of Mercedes (which seems to be the case), they will still maximise their chances of the WDC by favouring one driver to finally seal a title after countless seasons of dropping the ball. Favouring Seb from the start will also add a buffer just in case Vettel starts spinning and crashing at some point during the season.

      I just don’t see Leclerc fighting for the WDC before 2020.

      1. If Leclerc wins the first race and Vettel DNFs, I see no reason to favour Vettel over Leclerc

    3. Magnus Rubensson (@)
      25th February 2019, 20:43

      If he manages a win in Australia and then follows up with a podium in Bahrain … it’s not out of the question.

      Vettel will (obviously) want a title with Ferrari as well. I also see a possible parallel to 2007. F1 in 2019 looks promising. :)

    4. If Ferrari’s in a position to only have one set of an update, I think it will already be in trouble, regardless of who gets it…

  5. Let’s see what LeClerc can do in the rain before hyping him up, cause he ain’t on the level of Max yet, let alone Lewis’s level.

    1. @noname Agreed, many aspects of his driving have not yet been tested.

      Regarding wet weather driving though he destroyed the F2 field in Quali in Spa in 2017.. About 0.7s ahead of 2nd and 1.2 ahead of his team mate..

      Also, that quali lap he put in in Brazil was impressive, yes it was just slightly damp but he was on slicks and under pressure, that showed amazing composure and the kind of feel for the car required to perform well in the wet..

      I don’t know about anyone else but I’m allowing myself to get ridiculously excited about Leclercs skills and the chance of a big shakeup at the front end :)

      1. I thought the same about him, but I’ve read a few sources now how even in testing this year and qualy last year LeClerc still struggles to put all his sectors together into one lap. Seb does this really well, so does Hamilton and the other usual names in qualy at the top. This is a area he will have to work on, qualifying the car near the top. So pressure will be on his one lap make or break. Besides that I see him as a future star for sure, he’s quite impressive.

    2. It is very clear that max (crashtappen) has more talent than all of them. Just pair him with anyone you choose from current bunch and watch how he destroy the rival with the equal car. And to make it worst he is just coming better by every passing season.

      1. I don’t think Max is likely to go into a team with fully equal treatment for the hypothesis to ever be tested, because he is very loyal, and the team which has his loyalty has never been very good at treating drivers equally when one of them has Helmut Marko’s favour and the other doesn’t.

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