In Italy Charles Leclerc is already called a golden boy, is that justified?
The new teammate of Sebastian Vettel goes against the usual driver philosophy at the Scuderia, with Ferrari normally relying on experienced drivers over youngsters. The obvious exception being Felipe Massa in 2006 aged 24.
Fans of Formula have followed the rise of Charles Leclerc with great interest, and his results so far indicate that Monegasque is a potential star of the future.
Some have cast some doubt on that theory however; the Sauber in 2018 was actually a very good car proven by some impressive results from F1 ‘journeyman’ Erikkson. But regardless, the fact Leclerc was a first-year rookie shows some serious talent.
He won the GP3 championship in 2016, the Formula 2 title in 2017 and Ferrari confirmed in 2018 that he will sit next to Sebastian Vettel in the second factory car from Melbourne in 2019.
Esteban Ocon is convinced: “Leclerc has every opportunity to have a say in the title with Ferrari as early as the first year.
The Monegasque must achieve top results on a regular basis. There won’t be a warm-up phase in a top team like Ferrari. The pressure will be enormouse.
Sources within Maranello have been reported as calling Leclerc ‘The Golden Boy’.
After only 21 races before his first at Ferrari, are there any parallels? Even Felipe Massa had 52 races with Sauber before joining Micheal Schumacher in 2006 at Ferrari.
We actually have to turn back 34 years until we find a driver with comparably little experience.
The Swede Stefan Johansson had only contested 13 Grands Prix when he was called into the team for the then fired René Arnoux.
Even more green was the famous Ferrari driver who became a myth – Gilles Villeneuve was hired by Enzo Ferrari after the Canadian had only driven one WRC race, in 1977 for McLaren at Silverstone!
How well Charles Leclerc does at the opening race of the season in Australia we will find out in about two months. Here is a list of the Ferrari newcomers of the last thirty years and how they performed in red at their first race of their first season.
First Grand Prix in Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel in Australia 2015: 3rd place
Fernando Alonso in Bahrain 2010: 1st place
Giancarlo Fisichella in Monza 2009: 9th place (replacement for Massa)
Luca Badoer in Valencia 2009: 17th place (replacement for Massa)
Kimi Räikkönen in Australia 2007: 1st place
Felipe Massa in Bahrain 2006: 9th place
Rubens Barrichello in Australia 2000: 2nd place
Mika Salo in Austria 1999: 9th place (replacement for Schumacher)
Michael Schumacher in Australia 1996: Failure
Eddie Irvine in Australia 1996: 3rd place
Nicola Larini in Japan 1992: 12th place.
Ivan Capelli in South Africa 1992: Failure
Gianni Morbidelli in Australia 1991: 6th place
Alain Prost in Phoenix 1990: Failure
Nigel Mansell in Brazil 1989: 1st place.