Charles Leclerc has admitted he didn’t quite understand the lay of the land at Ferrari when he joined in 2019, and says it took him almost a year to realise how things worked at the Maranello squad.
Those comments may come as a surprise to some as it seemed that the Monegasque driver was up to speed almost instantly at the Scuderia, taking pole position in just his second race of 2019 (Bahrain) and winning from pole in Belgium and Italy.
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But on a recent episode of F1’s Beyond The Grid podcast, Leclerc explained why it took him so long to get used to how things worked at the colossal team he joined from Sauber-Alfa Romeo.
“I was comfortable from the beginning,” he said. “I had a lot of things to learn, but it felt like I’d known them straight away – on the social relationships. Then to feel comfortable in the way such a big team works? “Probably nearly a year I will say.”
“Nearly a year to understand exactly the dynamics of the team, how you face issues, how you react to those problems. Yes, probably almost a year.
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“It is a long time. Yes, yes, it is a very, very long time but it’s very, very interesting,” he added. “To live it feels a lot shorter and you can feel all the steps and everytime you are learning something and you apply it you are just getting a better understanding of how everything works. Also you feel more in control of the situation.”
Now in his third year with Ferrari, Leclerc is helping the team back up the midfield and hopefully back to the top, with two pole positions and one podium under his belt in 2021. He acknowledged that he’s matured considerably since joining the team as a fresh-faced Ferrari junior in 2019.
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“I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a driver, as a person,” he said.
“How much better? It’s difficult to quantify, but I definitely feel a better driver compared to when I first arrived. Just how much detail we are going into after every difficult race but every good race we’ve had… but it’s made it very interesting; it’s a sport where I am always learning and I think everyone on this grid is learning every time they get into the car,” added Leclerc.
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Ferrari sit level with McLaren heading into the summer break but next up is a favourite venue of Leclerc’s – Belgium – where he took a memorable and emotional maiden win in 2019.
Listen to the full Beyond The Grid podcast with Ferrari’s Leclerc in the player above, on Spotify, or on Apple Podcasts.