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The next big thing? – Exclusive F1 interview with Ferrari’s rising star
Posted By: Editor   |  17 Jul 2017   |  9:03 am GMT  |  77 comments

Charles Leclerc is a name that you will be hearing a lot in the next few months.

He is dominating the FIA F2 championship this season (the re-branded GP2) and at Silverstone this weekend he took his fifth victory of his rookie season to open up an 87 point lead in the table.

In two weeks his attention will turn to F1 testing with Ferrari after the Hungarian Grand Prix. Leclerc will drive for the Scuderia on one of the two days of testing before the summer shutdown and it is likely that from there attention on him will grow as the market for F1 seats for 2018 begins in earnest.

The Ferrari Academy driver is a hot property, so JA on F1 took the opportunity – before the stampede – to visit the F2 paddock to get some exclusive time with the next big thing to find out more about the man behind the name.

Leclerc is from Monaco, his father used to race F3 cars not terribly succesfully, but he was mentored by Jules Bianchi, who passed away after a serious accident in the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

Leclerc has lost two people close to him recently, as his father died shortly before the Baku weekend. Leclerc went out and won that race, demonstrating a strong mentality.

Apart from his speed, what catches the eye about Leclerc in the car is his calmness and racing brain. He makes few mistakes and is capable of overtakes like a Hamilton and a Verstappen, but more driven by calculation than aggression. He is not the finished article, of course, but the raw materials are there for a different kind of driver.

So, let’s go back a little bit to the origins, how did you start racing?.

Yeah my dad used to race in F3 but his best friend was also the father of Jules. So every time we had free time we were going to the track so that’s how I actually started when we were going there. The first time I went there I was probably three-and-a-half and I didn’t want to go to school, so I told my dad I was sick and he brought me to Phillippe’s track and there Jules’ dad was driving, obviously, and I did my first lap behind Phillippe with a rope attaching his go-kart to my go-kart, to be sure that I knew the basis before. Then I did half a lap and he took off the rope and that’s how I started.

How come your family was in Monaco?

Well my father has always been there. My mum then married my father and became Monegasque also.

Your grandparents were as well?

Yeah. They had, well my grandfather had quite a big plastic industry and then my father had some little industries for himself but to be honest, he was more following me on the races than anything.

So is it a rich family?

No. My parents aren’t particularly rich, my grandparents were a little bit, so they were helping us pay for the hotels and all that but they never wanted to invest in anything in racing,

How far did your dad’s career go?

He went into Formula 3 then he tested in Formula 1 once or twice, but he never had the budget. It was like 10 years before I was born, so that’s why I don’t know much about it

Was he always keen for you to race? Did he push you into it?

No I don’t think he was. Actually, on the way back after I did my first laps, which I asked for on the karting, I said to my father ‘I want to do that when I’m older’. And from then on we were going very, very often to Jules’ track, probably every weekend to drive because I was really asking for it, and obviously my father was more than happy that I was driving because it was his passion, but he has never pushed me. I mean I always wanted to go there so it wasn’t necessary for him to push me.

What were the turning points along the way? If you had to identify moments where things really turned.

Hm. Well obviously, my first race I did, Jules was my mechanic, so obviously there he taught me a lot from the beginning which helped me to work maybe a bit quicker than others. Then I would say 2011 when Nicolas [Todt, Leclerc’s manager] took me, obviously it was a big moment in my career because at the end of that year I would have stopped, because my sponsor couldn’t have afforded the other budgets.

Jules has helped me massively to make contact with Nicolas, explaining to him the situation of my career, that I will have stopped at the end of the year. And luckily Nicolas helped me, and since then he has helped me hugely. Then in 2014, when I went up to cars, that has been quite a big moment also and 2016 which was my first year as a Ferrari Academy driver.

And you won championships along the way, which has not been easy – some big fights. But you seem as you’ve gotten older you’ve gotten more – not dominant, too strong a word – much stronger as you progressed up the category?

Yeah well I believe, yeah. As I said I think, I had a really good godfather, that was Jules, and that helped me massively to grow up as a driver especially as I made my step up to cars. Well, his crash arrived quite early in my car career, but he has helped me hugely to get into this world and then my father – even though he hasn’t been to a very high motorsport level – his advice was always very good and I think circumstances I’ve been in in the last two years, losing two very close people, have made me a lot stronger as a person.

Obviously it was a big shock for all of us what happened with Jules, but did that hit you very hard? Did that take a while to get over? You were very young as well.

Yeah I mean; Jules, it was a bit like the family, my brother was his best friend. So, yeah it has been very hard at the beginning. It still is obviously but I need to do well for them up there. It has been a shock. Once I knew, I remember I was in Jerez for the last round of the championship and my father wouldn’t tell me what happened and I learned eventually and obviously it was quite hard.

What happened in the race? Do you remember what you were thinking? Or did you forget about it and drive the car?

Well I had to. Obviously it’s quite hard in these types of circumstances but that’s how – I’ve seen it the way that I had to do the best job I could in the car. Obviously in that moment I didn’t really know all about his real state because we didn’t have any news in Jerez, yet but I knew the accident was quite bad but I told myself that I knew that Jules – and my father, in Baku – would be happy for me to do well and not to think about it and not do a bad race. So that’s the only thing I was thinking about; trying to do the best I could for them.

In the Formula 1 paddock people were really impressed with that; impressed that you turned up for the next race and won in Baku. That really made an impression in the Formula 1 paddock And obviously the way you drive, I’ve worked with Senna and Schumacher, you have a calmness as a driver. I mean, when you need to get on with it you do and you make the passes, but you don’t make the passes in a very aggressive way, and it seems to me that you make them in a thoughtful way. Is that right?

Yes. I think I’ve definitely improved in this since I was younger. I was very very emotional when I was younger. I could get quite angry very quickly and I knew that was my weakness and I’ve worked on it quite a lot.


With Formula Medicine [an organisation run by Dr Cecharelli], who are helping (mentally) the drivers to just stay as calm as possible. I have actually been doing that for nine years now; to mentally work on myself, which I think is very very important and now for two years I’m working with the mental trainers of Ferrari which are amazing also. And that’s helped me a lot to improve in this manner, to stay calm in these difficult times, that was quite difficult from me in the beginning.

And one of the things I’ve noticed working with champions over the years is that when they’ve had a big setback, they first seekto understand it, and then they throw it away like a piece of rubbish and move on and never think about it again otherwise it drags you down, doesn’t it?

Right, exactly. I think, in sport the last part of the season in F3 was hugely difficult and to come back from that in GP3 has been quite hard. And as I said I think until I was 11 years old I would have never thought the mental aspect of a driver is that important and once I started to actually work on it and see the improvements I actually think that a driver cannot be good if his mental aspect is not right.

The other thing I’m fascinated with is that we all see the talented guys coming through from the juniors, like you, Lewis or Verstappen. But now there is a real debate about how long it should take to arrive in F1. Verstappen went straight in from F3, Lewis took a few more steps. You’re doing it more like him, F3, GP3, F2, you’re not straight from F3 into F1. I can’t help but feel that these extra couple of steps are a good idea.

Yes. It depends on the driver; I think some people adapt very quickly, not not all of them.

It depends also on how you look at things. With my manager, Nicolas, we think that if one day I want to go into F1, I want to be 200% ready and that’s what we hare aiming for. That’s why we did so many steps in the junior categories. I did one year in more or less every category that was useful to arrive in F1. And looking back at it I think we did well. This year I feel more ready than I’ve ever been, a lot of experience. So yeah, looking back at things I wouldn’t change anything. I’m very happy with how we solved things and how we managed my career until now.

Last year you got a taste of F1, driving Friday FP1 for Haas at several races. But to get a taste of F1 before F2 is good because you know where you’re aiming for, where the next step looks like?

Definitely. But I also thought there’s a positive part and a negative part to that situation I was in. Doing an FP1 at the same weekend as a GP3 weekend for me wasn’t the best thing we could’ve done,b ecause F1 and GP3 are two completely different cars and to be honest to go from F1 to GP3 in the same weekend has been very, very hard to manage last year.

But working with an F1 team and working with people, drivers like Romain [Grosjean] who has huge experience has been very helpful for me. To see how they work, to see the little details that maybe you don’t put much importance on when you’re younger actually seeing the F1 drivers mentioning it and taking a long time to analyse it in the briefings helped me usually to check every little detail and to try to improve absolutely everything. That has helped me massively.

But the plus is that it must have made you more adaptable, whcih is a really important quality in F1. The top F1 drivers all need to be adaptable.

Right. I think it also made me a bit weaker in the middle part of the GP3 season when I did that because going from F1 to GP3 I struggled to come back from F1 to GP3. I think I could have done better.

That’s interesting; were you honest with yourself while it was going on and telling those around ‘I’m struggling with this transition?’

Oh yeah completely, I said to the team in GP3 that I wasn’t taking 100% of the car and I still believe that I didn’t, in this middle part, I didn’t show the best of myself and it’s a shame. But I think we have learned from it and yeah, this year if we have the possibility to do some FP1s at the middle of this year I wouldn’t take it. I’m very happy to be in this position I’m in now.

I bet you are. Just 100% focused on winning the championship.

Exactly, and I’m very happy about this to have managed to have a fully focused season middle of the season, for now here in F2 and don’t think about anything else apart from F2.

How would you describe this championship that you’re in? There’s some pretty good drivers around, there’s a few that have been here for a few years. Not that many rookies apart from you, how would you describe driving in this championship?

I think obviously the drivers in F2 are very talented I mean drivers like Oliver Rowland or Alex Albon are very talented and in F2, (formerly GP2) I think we are seeing many times that experienced drivers are taking a bit the upper hand off the talented drivers in this category because obviously with the tyres, it’s quite difficult to understand them.

Pirelli is quite a huge step compared to every Formula we’ve had before and yeah to a driver it’s quite hard to learn all of this very quickly. Luckily I have a great team this year who are helping me to learn the car very quickly and yeah, to be honest it wasn’t my weakest point of adapting to cars quickly. I’ve always been quite OK with [Adapting to the tyres].

In Bahrain I remember you’d learned a lot in the first race about how to manage the tyres as you had not quite got it right and since then you’ve really got it right pretty much every time

I’m still learning right now but the first two weeks I’ve learned a huge amount.

For the degradation, in Bahrain it was the worst track of the season for the tyre degradation, so to start for this one as the first race was very hard. But I think we managed quite well with the third place and then a nice strategy in the sprint race to win.

It’s definitely part of the learning programme of this year and we knew it would be so.

Obviously quite a few drivers have been in your position, won the final step of the ladder and not got further. You got on the radar with a lot of people in F1, the Ferrari driver academy and the right manager. Do you worry a little bit about whether the journey continues or do you feel like you do the best you do on the track and leave the rest of it to the people around you to make it happen?

I think I’m in a lucky place and I’m lucky enough to have very good surroundings that are taking care of my career. Ferrari obviously are amazing and are supporting me and trying to find solutions for me next year and I have an amazing manager that is Nicolas, helping me since 2011 and I’m giving my- I never know this word in English – confiance.


Yes, exactly. I’m giving my total faith to them for them to find me a place, which is very good because I just have to focus on driving and I feel very lucky to be in this position because I believe not many drivers are in this position to be able to fully have faith in their surroundings.

Would you say from your experience, your journey, you’re looking at people coming up behind you that F2 is an important step. Lance Stroll and Max Verstappen have jumped it, quite a few people have, but is this an important step for you?

Yeah definitely, I think the F2 cars are definitely the closest to F1, the drivers are a lot more experienced as I said and you can always learn anyway but obviously I think in this category it’s one of the categories I’ve learned the most. Especially with the degradation of the tyre you don’t have anything similar before it and yeah I think the biggest aspect is the degradation of the tyre that is very helpful for the future because in F1 it is a big factor and to learn and to make experience with this car, this year, is very important.

Finally, I’ve noticed that you don’t make very many mistakes. I didn’t watch all of your races earlier on, is that something you’ve always had or something you’ve had to work on as you’ve gotten higher up in the category

I think that came a little bit with the mentality, to stay calm in the difficult situations, to avoid stupid errors in the difficult situations, that helped me to be a bit stronger and obviously during the last two years I became a lot more strong mentally and that helped me to avoid making stupid mistakes as I was doing before.

Has Leclerc got on your radar yet? What do you think of the points he raises in this interview? Have your say in the comment section below.

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Jules was his “crew chief” in his early career. And too bad FFSA and FIA won’t work together to allow Charles to run No. 17 as a tribute to Jules. This should be permitted to honour his memory the right way. It would be reminiscent of another famous motorsport driver (now commentator) who wore that number to three of his biggest wins of his career, and the song of a deceased singer whose family he presented a major award as a presenter — as Charles is truly the “brother’s keeper” to Jules.


Perhaps Charles Leclerc is READING this article as well – since James Allen interviewed him.

In which case, all the best for your future and hope to see you in F1 soon. James has chosen a good picture for the cover, one of those “staring at the abyss and the abyss stares back at you” kind of gaze.

You seem like someone with an eye on the larger picture and this article makes you sound calmly objective. I am sure you have something Unique and wonderful to show the world when you come on to the global platform that is F1.

See you when we see you.


What a breath of fresh air. I wish him well because you can do well in the junior categories and yet flop when you get to F1. Too many examples are abound. He does have however appear to have character and tbe prescence of mind to apply his talent.


Great that he is lucky with the Sponsors and Manager and now he is lucky to have James Allen doing an article on him! 😀

The way you have written the article, it’s so flowing… I say put him in a Ferrari already! 🙂

Good thing you added the – “He is not the finished article, of course, but the raw materials are there for a different kind of driver.” – at the end of your introduction.

Good for him.


He should consider switching to the French flag. Racing for Monaco doesn’t have a very endearing aspect to it.

Alianora La Canta

Charles would have to come up with a pretty convincing reason why the Monagasque national sporting authority should allow him to switch racing nationality. Given his background is deeply rooted in Monaco, I don’t see that happening. More importantly, I see no indication in anything I’ve read so far of him being even slightly interested in doing so.


Talk of the next big thing raises the issue of the next British driver to come into F1. With Jolyon seemingly not long for the F1 world, and Hamilton’s retirement talk, who do you see in ranks that will give the British public someone to cheer on?
What does it do for the sport in the UK to not have a driver in field?


Definitely Lando Norris.
The lad has talent.


You Brits are fine. You’ve got Callum Illot, Jake Hughes, Jake Dennis, Alex Lynn, Jordan King, etc.

Above all those names though, there’s McLaren protege Lando Norris. The kid is the next big thing, he’s the real deal – he just needs to figure out how to get a F3 car off the starting line. Other than than, he’s lights out fast – if he could start, he’d be walking away with the Euro F3 title and he’s still a rookie this year.


Has he got Webbo coaching him on the clutch?
BTW. I’m no Brit! 🙂


Lol I don’t know who is coaching his starts, but they are usually aweful. He drops 2-5 places on average off the line, but usually makes the places up by the end of the race.

I don’t know if it’s a team thing with the car, his reaction time, or if he’s in his own head now, but it’s brutal. It’s the one weakness in his game, and he needs to find a way to show signs of improvement in the area quickly or serious question will be asked.


LeClerc dusted Stroll in the 2015 F3 Rookie standings, winning the Rookie championship and finishing the season 4th overall (iirc). He’s been on my radar ever since the rumours about Stroll in F1 started. I find it strange (no i don’t, it’s the $$$) when a lower placed driver will get more consideration than someone who finishes higher in a championship than them – like Mick Schumacher and 2016 ADAC F4 Champion Joey Mawson.

When Lance St. Roll was earning his name at Monza and Spa, It is I, LeClerc was calmly handling his business on route to winning the rookie championship. Happy to see his name make it in the F1 hat, hope he gets a shot, and best of luck to him.


Just looks like another gunna to me.Any word about what parts they put on Rics car?


Last year I went to Hungary then Hockenheim during my summer holidays.

Leclerc didn’t win any of the races, but was always moving forwards, overtaking lots of cars – whilst avoiding the usual GP3 craziness. Both aggressive and calm. Very impressive young driver.

Someone sack Raikonnen Massa Kvyat please – there is a lot of talent out there much more deserving of an F1 seat!


You can add Palmer to that list too…


Yes I agree…!


Get him in the car and kick Vettel out 😄


Do we know the progress on that Jules Bianchi legal action taken by his father? How is that moving along?

I ask because I feel this shield/halo effort we detest is related to this action so FIA show safety action is being taken. Since FIA appears to be pushing forward, I gather the legal process has not moved forward much? FIA has stalled enough with the halo and now moved to the shield. How can they stretch this further to give the case time to be wrapped up so that these efforts for halo/shield go away? I mean already, what would this shield have done in Jules’ accident?

Alianora La Canta

It appears there was an amicable settlement a few months ago. (I’m not sure if it’s possible to link here, but it’s at the Stewarts Law website under “Statement of the family of F1 driver Jules Bianchi” dated 26 May 2017). This appears to have had zero effect on the shield/halo/cockpit protection discussion, which makes sense as they are designed for quite different sorts of accidents (such as Felipe Massa in Hungary 2009).


Hi Mr. James,

Sorry for this (perhaps a bit odd) question, how the stars are assigned to the particular questions, automatically by the system algorithm (rate of relevance) or by human? Thanks.


@Nik.. If I may take an educated guess, It could be either – the Number of years a certain ID has been active on the site, OR each increment is based on crossing a certain number of “posts”.

Or it may be a hugely complicated algorithm. Perhaps even the algorithm keeps changing. The MYSTERY adds to the FUN actually! 🙂


“Perhaps even the algorithm keeps changing. The MYSTERY adds to the FUN actually! 🙂 “

Right! 🙂



But the only thing I miss on this wonderful website compared to other regular “forum” like interactive websites – is the ability to private message other users.

Sure would be fun if there could be a little button introduced to allow PM-ing other users and of course along with that a button that allows one to turn ON or OFF, or even “Block” Private messages 🙂


Case in Point for a Private Messaging feature is this series of exchanges with NIK. Yes, it has gone a bit off topic from the actual article and would have been best had it been continued in PM.


I don’t blame you for being curious though! Earlier, I used to keep using different IDs when I wanted to post as I could never remember the previous ID or email used and refused to use my main email.

Then one day, I started fancying the shiny golden stars next to the Screen Name. Also, by then I knew that using my actual email id for the Login does not mean I get spammed by the site (My usual precaution for forum based sites). So I stopped using temporary IDs with temp emails.

And now look at me with three shiny Stars 🙂 They would not have had the system if people didn’t love it 😀



Yeah, that was a case, interestingly I was bit surprised when I verified and realized that I used to follow Mr. Allen’s site since 2010, but with different ID and email.

Even, there was a case, when back in 2013, during the Belgium GP, on this JA site there was announced a competition and the award was a limited series T-shirt, one of which (among 3 items that were provided free of charge) I won because my guess (regarding Raikkonen’s quali lap time) was one among the closest in that case. Still I have that T-shirt which i really value.

As for the stars, at first, when this program was introduced, I thought they were appropriated by the relevance and ingeniousness of a particular post, although (despite me not being English native speaker) I realized that that was not a case and your statement is a proof to that 🙂



2010 you won that T-shirt and you still have it?! I wonder what detergent you have been using to wash it. Hand washing it perhaps? 😀 Good for you!

(@Mr Allen – another reason to have a Private Message Button? Quietly exchange notes on what detergents other fans use on their F1 memorabilia ! )

@Nik.. can I recommend this Browser Extension I have started using recently called “Grammarly”. The basic version I use is free and works on a forum or sites like Facebook which allows you to comment. It auto suggests Grammar and Structure changes (also spellings) in your comments as you type them.

A few weeks ago, our dear Mr. Allen commented on a post of mine saying he read it twice – and still it made no sense to him.

So I installed that browser extension and (hopefully), now people understand my posts better 😉



No, as I indicated I follow JA since 2010 but I won that T-shirt in 2013 not in 2010, but anyway I use it very rarely, so it’s ok and there’s no miracle with regard of washing means 🙂


Glad to hear it thanks



Thank you James too for this fascinating environment you created.

Tornillo Amarillo

Excellent article, thanks a lot.

It teach us how Life works in the life of others, even if your life is truncated your support continues living in the life of others, like the lessons from Jules Bianchi to Charles Leclerc and the passion transmitted by Leclerc’s father to the son, and also it shows how the good job you can do can help the life of others like in the case of the impact the manager Nicholas Todt’s job has in this future Champion (or in the case of this excellent article written by Editor).

Go Charles!!!


Didn’t know Todt was/is his manager.
Prema has a nice YT channel.
The guy is very zen.

Max, winter is comming xD


Thx for the links, definitely an interesting lad.
Max, Ocon, Charles will change the face of F1, hopefully,


Mad Max, L’Ocon, The Cashier {Le Clerk}, Russian Torpedo…
F1 looks like MMOG / CSGO nick names xD

Tornillo Amarillo

if we have the possibility to do some FP1s at the middle of this year I wouldn’t take it

I understand this.

I don’t understand this.

I understand this.

An so on…

Richard Phillips

Thanks for the excellent article and interview.
I’m looking forward to following Charles Leclerc’s and wish him the best of luck
in moving up to F1🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟


I thought Giovanazzi was the next big thing for Ferrari? There was talk at the beginning of the season to get him into Sauber full time, or some type of role with Haas. has he already fallen by the wayside, James? Has Leclerc jumped him in the ladder so to speak?
I’d be disappointed if that was the case, as I thought Gio drove admirably in his 2 races this season. Even though he spun in China, his pace was immediately or better than Ericsson’s. If Sauber stick to Ferrari engines, I think Gio and Leclerc could be a good combo. Although saying that, I hope Leclerc isn’t promoted too quickly, to end up like Jolyon and Lance.


Reminds me of Nick Heidfeld in the late 90’s/early noughties. He was McLaren Mercedes’ next big thing until Kimi rocked up straight from F/Renault via Sauber.


He is driving FP1 for Haas.


By the sounds of things the Ferrari drivers will remain unchanged next year. Would be great if Leclerc can get in Kimi’s seat for 2019. 2019 could be a very interesting year in the drivers market.


I know you like Kimi, but I think his time is up. I’ll be surprised and a bit disappointed if he gets another season.


If Vettel is staying (which is fairly certain unless Lewis retires out of the blue) then I think Kimi stays too.


First thank you James for this article. He seems to be a strong character and knowledgeable about his limitations. Rather refreshing. His story so far sounds very much sweet and sour, the better for him if he can manage a successful career.
I have followed him a bit more closely this season and l for one am quite impressed by him. Leading has he does is something really, specially considering he had 3 retirements out of 12 races. Looking forward to seeing him in F1 soon. Marc


Agreed – he and Giovanizzi will hopefully get their chance soon.


I don’t know about next big thing until someone is proven in F1. Having said that, I’m already a fan of this kid. What a young and talented driver, more importantly a very mature young man. Looking forward to seeing him in F1.

James, I don’t remember much of his F1 testing with Haas. How did he go overall?


I’m hugely impressed with Charles. I wasn’t really following him before F2 so I didn’t know he was so close with Jules. A shame he has been through so much. He seems to be an amazing driver. He may already be good enough for Ferrari next year.

On a different note, proof-read the article before you post it guys 🙂


Ever try proof reading your own stuff? It’s surprisingly difficult, and as I’ve said before I’d much rather get articles with a few typos sooner rather than 100% correct articles later.

So relax – It’s an F1 site, not English 101 🙂


I always proof-read my own stuff. It’s not difficult. It just takes a little more time but it’s worth it. The subject of the site is completely irrelevant. It’s all about professionalism.


Ferrari don’t necessarily need Max in future – they need to trust and believe in Leclerc it ‘s about time Ferrari brought another driver other than Jules for a full time F1 race seat. The references to Jules in the article made me feel a bit emotional.


verstappen was second to ocon in f3, hamilton narrowly beat piquet in gp2 leclerc is dominating f2. there is no logic in drawing similarities unto leclerc is in f1.


Agreed. But he’s put in some stellar drives this year and he’s totally dominating the season. Very impressive. I hope he keeps it up when he moves to F1.

Stephen Taylor

I’m saying Ferrari should focus on getting their young talent from the FDA into the big team , not poach the the talent of others unless it is considered of absolute necessity to do that.


Great to see more young blood. Also with Max yesterday teaching Vettel. Max owns Vettel now. Every-time they meet Max comes out on top. Hell Vettel is the only guy to be punished by the Max defending rule. A rule that Vettel got brought in. We just need to get rid of the dead wood and F1 will be sing like a V12.

Stephen Taylor

Naturally aspirated V12 hybrids would be fantastic


This is an excellent article. It asks insightful questions and gets insightful answers about the mental side of driving, the preparation and the attitude. These things are not often revealed. It’s good to know that it’s not all ‘seat of the pants’ natural talent that gets the best to the top.


Hugely impressive at Silverstone this weekend. Ran away and hid from pole in the first race, then very calm and clinical while working his way up the field in the Sunday race. Lovely move at the Loop. Definitely worthy of a place somewhere in F1 next year.


Don’t want to rain on the young man’s parade, but the rhetorical question “The Next Big Thing?” should come with a warning and a dose of reality……………….

…………….Vandoorne, Jan Mag, Ralfie, Kyvat…………all were supposed to be “the next big thing”.

I’m not knocking the kid, and wish him every success in the future. However, until he has sat his posterior in a grand prix car and completed a full season, supposition about his ability is just that – “well I suppose he’s the next big thing.” You don’t know how good a driver is until he is on the grand prix front line, no pun intended……………it works in junior formula theory, but will it work in grand prix practice?


I hear ya Gaz, but for me Leclerc is different. It seems he has the “royal jelly”; he’s the real deal. After his dad died, he blitzed the Baku weekend (should have been 2 wins but for a questionable penalty).

He finished 2nd to Verstappen in the 2013 World KZ Karting championship.

The French karting system is again producing some diamonds … Leclerc, Ocon, Bianchi (RIP). I guess Rosberg was a product of it too, before going to Italy. Perfect timing, with the return of the French GP next year.

I’ll be very surprised if he’s not in F1 next year. I think this is Kimi’s last season, and so I think Leclerc will be with Haas or Sauber.


It looks like Vettel wants Raikkonen to stick around one more year! I wonder why? lol


I was worried in Baku GP because he lost his father before the race. But it seems this kid is mentally strong. I am looking forward to his future.


Shrodinger’s driver – A junior driver is both the next big thing, and not promising until he sits in an F1 car and does a season


I don’t think, from what i’ve read, that leclerc is anyones pussycat.


Agreed Gaz, well said.

Stephen Taylor

I wouldn’t write off Vandoorne yet


Couldn’t agree more. What happened to the art of patience? Without it, we would never have gotten parmesan cheese nor whiskey… So let’s give the kid a break – we’re only half way his first full year in f1 and he has been improving lately.


yeah, I hate people dismissing Vandoorne, he is in a terrible car with a terrible team-mate in a terrible Mclaren insight and an even more terrible Honda collude… He has wait that much for an opportunity and he finally get all that mess? BS… Alonso as all the chances to go wherever he want, hope someone give an opportunity to Vandoorne.

With that being said, there are a lot of new coming young drivers waiting for a sit and all of them look promising, I mean after max and ocon who are already showing they have the pace, f1 also has wherlain, and let say the brillant guy Stroll (a lot of big promise lol) … but also in the waiting list there are giovanazi and gasly, here leclerc, and a couple more like norris and some I might forget, looks like there are not enough cars in F1 for all of them, so I really hate the “THE NEXT BIG THING” include in the title.

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