It was almost the perfect weekend in Bahrain for Charles Leclerc. Just two races into his new life as a Ferrari driver, the Monegasque had put himself into a position to win his first Grand Prix – that is until an engine issue cruelly snatched away victory. However, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff reckons he’s already seen enough to prove Leclerc is going to be a real threat for top honours….
Quickest in two practice sessions, dominant across all three segments of qualifying and mature and fast enough to recover from a poor start from pole to retake the lead from his more decorated team mate Sebastian Vettel. It was a performance more akin to that of a pro, rather than a driver with just 22 starts under his belt.
He was set to become F1’s third-youngest winner, but instead had to settle for a significant – but in the circumstances much less wanted – first podium finish in third. Leclerc was remarkably upbeat after the race with rival team boss Wolff singing his praises.
“In Leclerc, I think we’re seeing a young champion in the making who was the emotional winner [on Sunday]. [He was the] fastest man and fastest machine. He got all the cruel side of motor racing and it was our [good] fortune.
“He has a good personality. He is a humble young man and he’s very fast. The combination between speed, personality and being able to temper your emotions in both directions is a great ingredient.
“I know that many other drivers who have the lion in them, like he certainly has, would have reacted in a much more controversial way about the third place and would have been angry and would have displayed that. None of that you see with Charles.”