by Reece Chambers
Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix didn’t quite turn out how Charles Leclerc would have wanted it to after a scintillating performance in qualifying that saw him take pole position.
A catastrophic loss of power halfway through Sunday’s race, whilst Leclerc had what seemed to be an unassailable lead over the chasing pack, subsequently led to Hamilton crossing the line first.
The 21-year-old’s loss of power was a manufacturing fault and Leclerc was not to blame. Had the young Ferrari driver made a mistake then it might possibly have been easier for him to take. As it was, the fault that led to a third-place finish will leave Leclerc frustrated that his first Formula One podium was not a victory.
Nevertheless, Leclerc’s driving in Bahrain last Sunday was confirmation that he is a force to be reckoned with at the top of the F1 circuit.
It is easy to forget that the Monégasque driver only burst onto the F1 scene last season as a driver for the newly branded Alfa Romeo Sauber team. In what was one of the worst performing cars on the circuit, Leclerc gained great recognition for finishing 13th overall in the 2017/18 F1 season with 39 points.
Such performances ultimately rewarded the 21-year-old with a prestigious move to F1 powerhouses, Ferrari. When a team like Ferrari comes calling for you at such a young age, you must have some talent, and that is certainly the case with Leclerc.
Leclerc’s rapid ascent to the top of the F1 circuit had been widely discussed before the start of the 2019 F1 season and his first two races for the Scuderia have proven why.
Although he is the second-youngest driver to race for Ferrari, Leclerc has already showcased that he possesses invaluable attributes that strengthen his bid for a title. In Bahrain, Leclerc’s slow getaway saw him fall off of top spot, with teammate Sebastian Vettel taking the lead.
However, within a matter of minutes, Leclerc was back in front after impressive overtaking that saw him dispatch of Vettel – his teammate who boasts four world championships – with incredible ease.
Such dominance from Leclerc over Vettel in Bahrain will pose important questions for the Ferrari team. Vettel has a record number of wins in Bahrain, 4, but the way in which his 21-year-old teammate was able to outsmart him raises an interesting situation for Ferrari.
If Leclerc fulfills his potential, he could become a serious threat to, not only Vettel but Hamilton, Bottas and others. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that the 21-year-old is only in his second year of F1 racing.
Indeed, he has a tremendous chance of winning multiple world championship titles in the future with copious amounts of talent. But, it should be remembered that both Leclerc and his team have to improve the reliability of his car in order to facilitate challenges for top spot.