What to expect from Charles Leclerc as he takes the wheel for his second Monaco Grand Prix.
Growing up in Monaco, Charles Leclerc often shares his earliest Formula One memory about playing cars with a friend near the fi rst turn and watching the Grand Prix at the same time. He never followed one driver in particular but confesses “the red car has always been special to me.”
It has been two and half years since he signed with “the red car” at age 21 becoming the fi rst Monegasque driver to sign a deal with Ferrari and the youngest driver to compete for the Prancing Horse since Ricardo Rodriguez in 1961.
And on May 23, Leclerc hopes to become the fi rst native to win the Monaco Grand Prix since Louis Chiron drove a Bugatti to victory in 1931. His attempt at victory on home turf in 2019 did not go as planned. In lap eight, he touched the inside wall at La Rascasse which sent his Ferrari into a spin. The only driver to not fi nish the race was consoled by a hug from Princess Charlene.
"I have changed so much since my fi rst race in Monaco,” Leclerc tells Forbes Monaco. “My biggest problem was that I was impatient, I wanted everything straight away. Even though it has been only two years, I have matured a lot in this area. In Formula One, when there is a problem, you need to analyze it properly and address it in the best way possible."
Leclerc, who is worth an estimated $12 million and under contract with Scuderia Ferrari until 2024, adds that with this season’s SF21 car “we have put in a lot of eff ort to improve our top speed from last year.” He added, “For Monaco, you need a car that is good at cornering.”
He admits his new Scuderia Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz motivates him. “I can defi nitely see, and so can the team, that Carlos and I are working really well together.
He is a strong driver, speedy and consistent. We will push each other and it will be great.”
The 23-year-old driver tested positive for Covid in January and had to self-isolate in Monaco.
Although Leclerc only felt mild symptoms, other drivers reached out by texts. “There is competition but at the end of the day, we are human and have lot of respect for each other.”
For the 2021 season Leclerc is gunning “to perform at my best. In many sports athletes have goals that depend only on them. Formula One is a team sport and until that fi rst race, we don’t not know how good the car will perform. I don’t like to set a performance goal, but when I look back on my season I want it to be without regrets.”
For this year’s Grand Prix, race organizers in Monaco have a dedicated Charles Leclerc Fan Pack, which includes 500 seats (about half the available spots due to social distancing rules) in the K stand near the Tabac Turn 12 and a chance to meet Leclerc for a few minutes during each of the two days.
In April, Leclerc gifted his fi rst season’s SF90 Ferrari (part of his contract renegotiation) to Prince Albert for HSH’s car collection museum in Fontvieille. “It was in this single seater that I made almost all of my Formula One dreams come true. My fi rst F1 victory, fi rst time racing for Ferrari, fi rst pole position, this car means so much. But I know that it will be in good hands, so I’m happy that it’s there,” he told Monaco Info.
As he does not have the chance to spend much time at home, Leclerc says that his apartment “feels so good” when he is here. “I am not saying this because I am Monegasque but I love all of Monaco and I always try to discover new restaurants and places in diff erent areas.
“Whenever I am back, I visit the new land extension. It is incredibly impressive and to watch Monaco expanding is nice to see,” says Leclerc.