Charles Leclerc reveals brutal Ferrari joke with dream F1 drive on the line

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc in his first Ferrari season, 2019.

Charles Leclerc was catapulted into a Ferrari seat after just one season in the sport.

Charles Leclerc revealed the circumstances behind how he was told he was going to be a Ferrari driver, and it came in the form of a prank.

Leclerc, a product of the Ferrari Driver Academy, had been impressing in his rookie year at Sauber in 2018 after winning the Formula 2 title, putting himself in contention to replace Kimi Raikkonen for the following season.

But when he got the call from then-team principal Maurizio Arrivabene, he initially got told he didn’t have the seat, before a swift call back to tell him he would be a Ferrari driver.

Charles Leclerc recalls heart-sinking moment before news of Ferrari promotion

After the first few races, it wasn’t long before Leclerc began out-pacing team-mate Marcus Ericsson at Sauber, putting himself on Ferrari’s radar with five points finishes in six races in midfield machinery – including an impressive P6 finish in Baku in only his fourth race in Formula 1.

With a decision to be made over Raikkonen’s future, Leclerc was waiting for what was going to happen in September of that year, when the briefest of cruel jokes was played on him before the good news came his way.

“I was on a boat in Monaco. I had put the phone on silent mode, I find the call from Maurizio Arrivabene,” Leclerc revealed to fashion magazine L’Officiel Italia. recommends

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“I tell the friend I was with to switch off the engines, that the head of Ferrari had called me and I couldn’t hear well.

“I realised he wouldn’t take me at Ferrari. I felt a bit strange that he was calling to tell me, I was disappointed.

“Fifteen seconds later he called me back and told me he was joking. I hung up and jumped in, it all seemed so surreal. Me in the Ferrari…’.”

Leclerc soon showed himself to be more than a match for Sebastian Vettel in the other car upon his promotion, swiftly earning a five-year contract extension – the longest deal given to a driver in the history of Ferrari – with victories at Spa and Monza two highlights of his debut Scuderia season.

While his potential has largely gone unmatched through a combination of underperforming machinery, strategy calls and driver error, he still lays claim to being one of the most highly-regarded drivers on the grid.

Talks over a fresh deal are said to be underway with Leclerc and Ferrari, with his and Carlos Sainz’s contracts set to be up at the end of 2024.

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