Cool, calm and collected- that’s the 21-year-old Charles Leclerc for you, someone who became the 99th driver ever to clinch a pole-position in Formula 1, arguably his finest achievement till date. Isn’t it?
Few drivers have made as much news as they have inspired for their unflappable nature. And it can be said that the avid Ferrari youngster is fast learning the ropes.
But Charles Leclerc, who is currently driving in only his first-ever season, seems to be a guy who’s under no pressure to prove a point or solidify his position in F1’s most famous if not the greatest racing marquee. This is even as, he’s well out of the top three drivers this season.
But the Monegasque driver, who begins his 2019 Spanish challenge from fifth on the grid, has to go to get out there and break into the top three.
Not only from a fan perspective but also from the viewpoint of the Scuderia stable, one that is already languishing behind Mercedes (who enjoy a 74-point lead) it’s imperative that Charles upped the ante of scoring so that Ferrari can truly bounce back.
Also, as seen in the last Grand Prix, where the qualifying accident on Saturday that saw Leclerc struggling for grips on the tyres, managing to only collide into the wall, thus enforcing a red-flagged session, may have motivated Charles Leclerc to up his game for Spain’s race.
Thankfully while there was no qualifying errand on Saturday, all are wondering what has Leclerc got for us for the main-race?
And to that regard, perhaps it’s time one’s got to appreciate a core reality.
While a race win, given the menacing form of both Mercedes cars may fundamentally be in the alley of good fortune, if not down to pure race craft of Leclerc, what one can expect from Charles would be a fine battle for the top three.
Can Charles manage that?
To that end, what may perceptibly play to his advantage would be the superior straight-line speed of the SF90, a car that’s quicker than the Red Bull on the straights albeit on equal terms in the corners. It’s up to Charles Leclerc to make the most of that.
Also, he would be well-informed about the fact that bettering his own teammate, someone he was quicker than at China, won’t alone suffice. Will it?
For there’s also the key Max Verstappen challenge that the Ferrari driver will have to counter.
And to that end, should one see another Vettel vs Verstappen skirmish, two familiar on-track rivals who’ve often chipped into one another, evidently in the Grands Prix at Russia (2018) and China (2018) as seen in the past may serve up something interesting.
All that said, what should encourage Charles should be taking a relook at his Spanish report card of the 2018 race, his maiden contest in this part of the world.
Even as he endured a lackadaisical qualifying, managing no better than fourteenth on the grid, Leclerc would battle the backmarkers, most noticeably, the McLarens and Renaults to finally secure a tenth. That time, it was a drive in Sauber. This time, however, Charles’ got himself a Ferrari to contest in. So can the talented youngster ensure that the Horse stays Prancing?