It takes a special kind of driver to get the call to race for Ferrari with less than a season of Grand Prix competition under your belt - especially when the man you’re set to replace is a world champion. Charles Leclerc is that driver.
The young man from Monaco has shown flashes of brilliance this year while racing for Sauber, but it’s not just his skills behind the wheel that set him apart - it’s his mature attitude and mental fortitude too.
In a revealing conversation on this week’s episode of the official F1 podcast – Beyond The Grid, presented by Bose – Leclerc tells host Tom Clarkson how his racing persona was toughened by personal tragedy, including losing his father midway through his title-winning F2 campaign in 2017 and the passing of godfather Jules Bianchi in 2015.
“I think that when I first started racing, my weak point was my mental strength. I think I was quite weak mentally, very emotional, and that was not great for me. Since the beginning I felt that it was my weakness and I started to work on it with Formula Medicine and then with the Ferrari Driver Academy, who have also some mental trainers for different types of situations.
"But definitely there will never be any training to react better in a situation like losing a parent. I definitely became a lot stronger mentally, firstly thanks to that, but then there was also quite a big loss which was the one of Jules.
“That was extremely hard to take but then, because of this, the whole situation also made me stronger mentally. When my father passed away it was also extremely difficult but somehow with all the work I’ve done for racing especially, it has helped me also in a personal situation like this.
“If you asked me now what is your biggest quality it is probably my mental strength, which turned from a weakness into my biggest strength.”
It’s that kind of mental toughness that gives Leclerc the belief that he will be able to soak up the pressure that comes with driving for Ferrari – and that if he can’t he would accept being dropped.
To listen to the full eye-opening conversation with Leclerc - including anecdotes of his childhood in Monaco, bumping into F1 stars - subscribe to Beyond The Grid now via Apple Podcasts, Spotify or via your favourite podcast app, or listen using the player above.
To check out all the episodes to date, click here.