How the career of the Ferrari rookie was saved by Jules Bianchi and how did Charles get his favorite number after all?
You know a lot about the Ferrari rookie — GP3 and Formula 2 wins in his debut seasons, strong and brilliant performances for Sauber and Ferrari, and you may check 5 highlights of Charles Leclerc’s career. But we’ve collected some curious facts from the life of the modern Formula 1 star that you probably didn’t know.
Fact #1. Became a racing driver, because he did not want to go to school.
Back in the days of performances in Formula 3, Hervé Leclair met Philippe Bianchi, who later became his best friend. It is very convenient that at the same time Bianchi Sr happened to be the owner of the race circuit in Brynhol. For the first time, Charles appeared on this track at the age of 3.5 years. He really didn’t want to go to school and told his father he was ill. However, instead of leaving his son at home, Leclair Sr. took him with him to the karting track, where the races held Philippe Bianchi. Herve sat Charles in a kart, one end of the rope tied to his car and the other — to the card of Philippe. On his very first lap of the race, Charles Leclair drove behind Bianchi, who took him in his peculiar tow. So, in this simple way, they made a lap and a half and when Philippe was sure that the boy had learned the basics of driving a racing car, he untied the rope. From there, Charles rode on his own.
Fact #2. Left without financial support from his relatives.
Even though Charles was born and raised in Monaco, his family is hardly wealthy. In Herve Lecler was a few small business projects, conducted them without much enthusiasm, and left at the first opportunity to go to the racetrack after his son. In fact, he accompanied Charles at all the races, because motorsport interested him more than anything else.
Charles’ grandfather was the major financial force in the family. The owner of his own business in the plastics industry, he paid for hotel rooms for Charles and his father in the formative years of the young racer’s career, but that’s where the charity work ended. A staunch opponent of racing, he refused to invest in this dubious enterprise. Partly because of this reason in his final year in karting Charles Leclair was left without financial support, which means his future career was in great doubt. At this critical moment to help Monegasque came to his “godfather” Jules Bianchi. The future racer Marussia asked his manager Nicolas Todt to look at the promising guy. Todt took a closer look…
Fact #3. Dedicated the championship in Formula 2 to his father
Herve Leclair could not imagine his life without racing, drive and mad adrenaline in the blood. He was very respected in the world of karting, in 80-90-is performed in Formula-3, and even a couple of times took part in the tests of Formula-1. However, the lack of proper funding prevented him from making his Royal Racing debut. Hervé Leclair died in June 2017 of lung disease. He was only 54 years old.
For Charles, this period was the most difficult not only in his career (the beginning of the season in Formula 2) but also in his personal life. After learning that his father terminally ill, Leclair Jr. tried to keep all the experiences inside and no one with them not to share. The young pilot feared that if the results of the race will not be satisfactory, the environment will consider that all fault “family circumstances”.
Immediately after his father’s death, Charles went to another stage in Baku, took pole and won the main race. He was sure that Herve was watching him from above, believing and wishing only one thing – to win. Charles Leclair dedicated his Formula 2 title to him.
Fact #4. Got his racing number at the third attempt
Charles always wanted a number seven for his debut season in Formula One, but that number had already been taken by Kimi Raikkonen. The second time his choice fell on the number 10, but get the desired number Leclerc again failed. Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso started the 2017 season with a “ten” on board.
Now the number 16 is on the car of Leclair, and this is his third choice. The clue of such a choice is simple: if you add one and six, you just get his favorite number seven.
Fact #5. Ranked among the top three Monegasques in the history of Formula 1
Despite the fact that the Monaco Grand Prix has been held for over 70 years, the Monegasque drivers who took part in it can be counted on the fingers of one hand. And it doesn’t take long to count: including Leclair himself, only three Monegasques have competed in F1 race weekends.
Louis Chiron (“Maserati”) began to speak in the races even before the Second World War. At the age of 58, he took part in the 1958 Monaco Grand Prix and won the title of “the oldest driver” to ever compete in the Royal Races. Olivier Beretta (Larousse) made his Formula One debut in 1994, but failed to make any serious progress and was replaced by Philippe Allot in mid-year.