“There is also a mega-difference between being a contender able to win one or two races during a season to a title contender because you can’t do a mistake, you can’t lose too many points, and you have to manage each race and the season. I am confident he can do that.”
Leclerc said the mistake in Imola was one he would learn from and not repeat. He is fueled by the memories of his father, Hervé, a former Formula 3 driver who died in 2017, shortly before his son signed his first Formula 1 contract.
“When I started winning in karting when I was 7 years old, naturally, you think you are the best, but he was telling me ‘Calm down, Charles’,” Leclerc said. “He was always telling me to stay humble. It was the first thing he ever taught me when I was winning, which has been very useful ever since.”
Since 2011, Leclerc has also been supported by his manager, Nicolas Todt, the son of Jean Todt, the former president of the F.I.A. There is also a strong family network that includes his brother Arthur, who is racing for a second season in Formula 3 this year.
Another important person in Leclerc’s life is Jules Bianchi, his godfather, who died in July 2015 from brain injuries he sustained in a crash during the Japanese Grand Prix nine months earlier.
“We were always extremely close,” Leclerc said. “There was definitely an extremely strong connection, and that remains the case through to today.
“At the end of 2010, when my father didn’t have the money to keep me going in karting and it was looking like it was going to be my last year, Jules was kind enough to speak about me to Nicolas who then paid for everything for me until I reached Formula 1.
“So without Jules, I would be nowhere,” he said. “He also taught me so many things when I was younger that allowed me to take my first steps in car racing and have been fundamental for my career and for me as a person. Jules will forever be with me.”