If you have been keeping up with Formula One this season then you know that there is only one name with so much expectation and promise behind it that it's almost as if he has reached legend status already. The name, of course, is of the young rookie upstart, Charles Leclerc.
It is a little head-scratching to those not necessarily caught up with racing as to why a young challenger who hasn't really had any significant achievements yet is already a fan-favorite. In order to shine some light on the popularity of this rookie, here's 10 things you may not know about Charles Leclerc.
10 This is only his second season of Formula One
This first one is a bit of a gimme, as you probably already know Leclerc is considered a rookie. He drove for two years in Formula Three (2015-16), one year in Formula Two (2017) and in December 2017 it was announced that Leclerc had signed with the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team for the 2018 season.
Technically, he had been driving as a development driver in F1 for two years before his signing as a regular driver. Though he was driving in a low-ranking car, Leclerc managed to score points on multiple occasions, earning the attention of top team managers.
9 Ferrari Took An Uncharacteristic risk on Leclerc
Ferrari does things a little differently from everybody else, they always have and they always will. As a fan, it can sometimes be frustrating to watch them reject conventional tactics or technology out of stubbornness, however, it can also be sometimes relieving to know that some things will never change as long as Ferrari carries the torch.
The 2018 and 2019 seasons saw teams recruiting more younger drivers than usual (following in the footsteps of Red Bull and Max Verstappen). It was expected Ferrari wouldn't follow suit, until... they did. Charles Leclerc, after only one F1 season, was going to be driving red.
8 He's the Godson of Jules Bianchi
Jules Bianchi's career has unfortunately been overshadowed by his tragic death at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. He never fully achieved his potential as he was only halfway through his second season. Needless to say, his death had a devastating effect on the Formula One community and is still a difficult subject to talk about.
Jules was an inspiration and an idol for Leclerc, and one of the main reasons that he had always wanted to drive for Ferrari (Bianchi's favorite team).
7 His win at Baku FIA Formula 2 in 2017
Unfortunately, the death of Jules Bianchi was not the last tragedy Leclerc had to weather on his climb up to Formula One. A most astonishing triumph over adversity came in 2017 when Leclerc was racing in Formula Two. Just two days before he was scheduled to race in Baku his father passed away after a long battle with illness.
His father was also a race car driver; primarily driving Formula Three in the eighties and nineties. He would go on to win in Baku, proving an inexorable resolve and a mental strength essential to competitive racing. Leclerc went on to win the championship and dedicated it to his father.
6 A young prodigy
While it's true that Charles Leclerc hasn't won any championships in Formula One yet, there's no denying his legendary status in Formula 2. It was during his debut season that he won the FIA Formula Two Championship, placing himself among a select few to have won in their rookie season; Nico Hulkenberg, Lewis Hamilton, and Nico Rosberg.
He also broke the record for most pole positions in a single season (eight times). As for his time in Formula 3, he ended up winning the Rookie's Championship by a landslide 123 points.
5 His favorite number is 7
When Leclerc first joined Formula One he wanted to have his race number be the number 7. Unfortunately, the number had already been taken (and still is) by Kimi Raikkonen. His second choice was the number ten, however, that number had already been taken by Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly.
For his third pick Leclerc decided on the number 16. He explained reasoning thusly; the sum of the digits for 16 (1 and 6) equal the number 7. Perhaps if Raikkonen decides to retire Leclerc will have a chance to claim the elusive number 7.
4 His relationship with Pierre Gasly
Although Leclerc doesn't have any enemies and appears to be friendly with other young rookies (such as Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon), there are no other drivers he is as close with as he is to Pierre Gasly.
The two have known each other since they were five or six and been racing together since way back when they were still carting. Not only have they been racing together since they were young, but their families have also been quite close; going on family vacations together
3 First time driving a Formula One car
The first time Leclerc got to test out an F1 car was during first practice session of the 2016 British Grand Prix. At the time it was rumored that Leclerc (who was still racing Formula Three), would move up to Formula One when the season was up (following in the footsteps of Valtteri Bottas and Daniil Kvyat).
In the end, these rumors were proven to be false when they were debunked by Haas (the team he was supposedly expected to join). His most notable F1 test drive was the first day Hungaroring (in the Ferrari car). After 98 laps, he was the fastest on the clock.
2 He loves driving city-tracks
In his interview with Tom Clarkson for F1 TV, Leclerc disclosed his top five favorite tracks to race on. They were, in order, Macau, Monaco, Baku, Singapore, and Norisring. The first four of these tracks are all street circuits, meaning that they close off typically public roads to create the course.
Because these tracks are designed for road vehicles first and race cars second, these kinds of tracks have a reputation for being extremely difficult. Leclerc embraces the added difficulty; "no room for errors," he says, and that's the way he likes it.
1 He was 3 when he first started driving
Leclerc's origin story begins with an act of mischief at the alleged age of three and a half. He had decided he didn't want to go to school (kindergarten) that day and decided to fake being sick.
His father believed him and instead of taking him to school, took him to meet with his friend Philippe Bianchi (Jules Bianchi's father), this meeting spot just so happened to be a racetrack. Leclerc gave carting a go and immediately fell in love; the rest, as they say, is history.