Formula 1

Charles Leclerc: loyalty is not a weakness, but a weakness

After the “Piastrigate,” there has been a lot of talk about loyalty in Formula 1 in recent weeks. Despite a chaotic start to the season in which he suffered several strategic porridges from his stable, Charles Leclerc’s loyalty to Ferrari remains intact. And, while bad decisions on the Scuderia’s wall have become (all too) common, the Monegasque has never imposed his own ideas. Even when they were excellent.
In Hungary, for example, the 24-year-old pilot stated over the radio that he was “confident” with the plane’s “medium” tyres. Ferrari chose to cover Max Verstappen’s stop by putting him on “hard” tires, relegating him to a disappointing sixth place at the finish. This scenario then allowed for a speech that became a kind of refrain: « I haven’t had any explanations yet. Charles Leclerc had confided in him on Canal +. I’m at a loss for words as well. We’ll need to look again…«

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In three and a half years at Ferrari, the Monegasque has yet to impose his feelings as a driver when necessary. It is, however, a true world champion’s faculty: Max Verstappen had heated conversations with his low wall long before being crowned. Between Lewis Hamilton, exchanges of point of view are much more common and it has happened more than once to the German team to give the benefit of the doubt to its pilot, as was the case in Turkey, in 2021.
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But being able to grant oneself full powers is not innate, and it is as much a question of status as of experience. Hamilton is a multiple world champion, he has blind faith in Mercedes and vice versa. Phenomenon of precocity, Verstappen very quickly became the cornerstone of the project led by Red Bull. Leclerc’s story within the Scuderia is quite different.

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The Monegasque first had to live with a role of N.2, even if this combination quickly became too tight for him. At the time, he had several times tried to intervene in the strategies of the Italian team, in Singapore or Sochi. This had earned him some reprimands.
« I think there are things that shouldn’t be said on the radio because in the end it wouldn’t have changed our decision.
had dropped Mattia Binotto after the Russian Grand Prix, on Channel 4. There are times to say certain things and times when it is better not to say anything. I think on this level, Charles knows he has to learn. And the fact that he apologized means he understood. »

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Its DNA and its history have made Ferrari the proudest team on the board. The only one to be more so than its pilots. And if the Scuderia is not beyond reproach, its leader is not either. Leclerc has character. It is enough to remember some of his reactions, at Spa (2020) or at Le Castellet more recently, to be clear. But he is by nature much more demanding of himself than of his team.
Sainz, he has passed the course
« We will do the accounts at the end of the season but it is sure that if we miss 25 or 30 points, including the error of Imola too, we know where it will come fromhe self-flagellated after the error that cost him an abandonment at Le Castellet, on Canal +. I can only blame myself.” In a clever game of communication, Mattia Binotto had even taken the liberty of assuring him that his reasoning was not good…

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The balance of power is therefore completely unbalanced and only the repetition of bad experiences could give Charles Leclerc the desire to sometimes take his destiny into his own hands during the Grands Prix. This course, his box neighbor Carlos Sainz has already crossed it, as he demonstrated in Monaco or even in France.
« If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s to try to find a balance between bustle and calm.said the Spaniard in comments relayed by It comes with experience. No harm done […] to assert his point of view. You have to have arguments and make people understand them. And at other times, you have to give calm and confidence to the team. » For Leclerc, this is perhaps the most important issue of the second half of the season.

Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) at the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix
Credit: Getty Images

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