Is Charles Leclerc the Real Deal & can he Beat Max Verstappen?

Christian Horner, Red Bull, F1

Grace Crispin

Is Charles Leclerc the Real Deal & can he Beat Max Verstappen?

Charles Leclerc enters his fifth season in Formula One with a point to prove. Ferrari’s seemingly vast improvements under the new 2022 regulations gives him a fully competitive car and what looks like the chance to challenge for the title.

Leclerc currently leads the driver's championship with 45 points, 12 points ahead of Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz. The Monegasque won the season opener in Bahrain and came up second in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to close rival Max Verstappen.

Leclerc’s season-opening win was made sweeter with Verstappen’s DNF, but their close duels in both races shows glimmers of an even more fierce title battle than the one last season. But can Leclerc match and beat the current World Champion?

F1 2022 Request A Bets

skybet betting tip

VERSTAPPEN TO WIN THE DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP, FERRARI TO WIN THE CONSTRUCTORS CHAMPIONSHIP @ 2/1

Junior Career

Leclerc first started his career in motorsport at the age of eight in karting. In the five seasons following, Leclerc picked up an impressive six junior category titles in France and Monaco. In his final season in go-karts, he placed second in the CIK-FIA World KZ Championship in 2013 to none other than current title rival Max Verstappen.

After a successful karting career, Leclerc made the jump to racing cars in 2014, entering the Formula Renault 2.0 Alps. The Monegasque finished the season Junior Champion and overall runner-up with 199 points.

The year following, 2015, Leclerc was racing in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. He picked up three wins out of 33, with four poles and 13 podiums. Leclerc placed fourth, with fellow f1 driver Lance Stroll taking the Championship.

However, the next year brought the first major title to Leclerc. In 2016 he competed in the third tier of the Formula One feeder, GP3 with ART Grand Prix. Leclerc won three races in his title-winning season, at Barcelona, the Red Bull Ring and Spa. He also picked up four poles, eight podiums and 202 points - 25 more than second-placed Alex Albon.

Also in 2016, Leclerc made his first contact with Formula One. The Monegasque joined the Ferrari Driver Academy and acted as a test driver for Haas where he raced in the first practice session of the British and German Grand Prix.

The jump up to the FIA F2 Championship in 2017 brought even more fortune to Leclerc. Racing with Prema, Leclerc picked up where he left off in GP3. He picked up seven wins, including a notable showing in the Bahrain sprint race where he started sixth, fell to 14th after a pit stop and then stormed through the field to claim the win. Leclerc also claimed eight poles, ten podiums and 282 overall points, a formidable 72 points clear of second place.

Leclerc’s more than impressive junior career proved more than fruitful, with F1 team Sauber signing him for the 2018 season. He placed 13th in the driver standings, with his most noteworthy moments being a sixth-place finish in Azerbaijan, multiple seventh-place finishes and a Q3 appearance in the Brazilian rain.

F1 2022 Request A Bets

skybet betting tip

LECLERC OR VERSTAPPEN TO FINISH ON THE PODIUM IN EVERY RACE IN THE 2022 SEASON @ 3/1

Leclerc’s Ferrari Experience

Leclerc was promoted to Ferrari in 2019 to replace 2007 World Diver’s Championship winner Kimi Raikkonen and pair up with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel.

In his first season with Ferrari, Leclerc finished fourth in the driver’s standings, with two wins. His maiden win in Formula One came in Spa, Belgium. The Monegasque won from pole, an especially noble win after the tragic passing of F2 driver and friend Anthoine Hubert the day before.

His next win was just the next race. Leclerc won once again from pole, this time in Monza, Italy in front of the Tifosi. Other standout races include Bahrain, where Leclerc lost what would’ve been his maiden win after engine failure made him fall to third, and two-second places in both Austria and Singapore.

Leclerc’s qualifying pace was a definite highlight of his 2019 season. He put his car on pole seven times, in Bahrain, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Russia and Mexico. However, his impressive season was somewhat tainted by claims of an illegal engine in the Ferrari.

The Monegasque placed eighth in 2020 and seventh in 2021, with only two poles and three podiums in the two seasons.

The last two seasons have left a lot to be desired for both Leclerc and Ferrari, but his performances in 2019 showed that if given the tools, Leclerc can deliver the results. The 2022 season so far shows hopes of a return to greatness for The Prancing Horse.

F1 2022 Request A Bets

skybet betting tip

LECLERC OR VERSTAPPEN TO WIN EVERY RACE IN THE 2022 SEASON @ 500/1

Verstappen vs Leclerc

Max Verstappen enters the 2022 Formula One Season in his seventh year in the sport. The Dutchman looks to pick up where he left after his Championship win in 2021. But the biggest question is - can Leclerc beat him?

Verstappen boasts an incredible record in his time in Formula One. In his 143 race starts, Verstappen has won 21 times and appeared on the podium 61 times. He has 1582.5 points to his name, 13 poles, 16 fastest laps and one Grand Slam (pole position, all laps lead and fastest lap).

The pair met multiple times in their younger years, including an infamous clash in 2012, where Leclerc collided with Verstappen after the chequered flag. However, the difference in the pace of their machinery in their shared years in Formula One makes it difficult to determine how close Leclerc is to the World Champion.

Leclerc and Verstappen have duelled in both races so far this season, going wheel to wheel in dramatic fashion. The Monegasque had the beating of him in Bahrain, with a fuel pressure issue costing Verstappen in the last laps, showing he can beat the Dutchman. But the immediate response in Jeddah shows that Verstappen is as competitive as he was in his title-winning season.

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