Charles Leclerc reveals true story behind F1 contract ‘lie’ he told his dying father

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc coming out of the tunnel in Monaco

Charles Leclerc coming out of the tunnel in Monaco

Charles Leclerc has spoken about the white lie he had told his father, Hervé, in the days before his death – that he had already signed a deal to reach Formula 1, before penning official paperwork a month later.

Hervé died in 2017 following a long illness, the season in which the then-Ferrari junior became the first driver to win back-to-back GP3 and GP2 titles.

Charles Leclerc tells full story of the F1 contract ‘lie’ he told his father

Leclerc was flying through the junior categories and sadly lost his father aged only 54, before he was able to reach Formula 1, but just before he passed, the young Monégasque told his dad that he had signed to make it into Formula 1 – which was not strictly true at the time.

It came true a month later, Leclerc joining Sauber for his first season in Formula 1 before being promoted to Ferrari the following year, but by then Hervé had passed away.

Leclerc paid an emotional tribute to his father after winning his first Monaco Grand Prix last weekend, a race victory which was a “dream” of both of theirs from when he was growing up.

Given the success that has come his way since, and for younger brother Arthur, who has begun his journey in GT racing with Ferrari this year, he looked back at how his father would feel at his career now, while expanding on the white lie he told him just before he passed away, which later came true.

“I think he would be extremely proud,” Leclerc said of his father on the On Purpose podcast with Jay Shetty.

“Because he passed away a year before I got into Formula 1, it was very difficult because I unfortunately hadn’t signed my Formula 1 contract, which was the ultimate goal for our family.

“Formula 1 is really where you want to get once you start a racing career. That’s where you want to be one day, but I had lied to him two days before he passed away and I told him, ‘Listen, I signed my Formula 1 contract.’

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“The year was going well, I was quite confident that this will happen, but I also knew it was a matter of days before he would pass away.

“And I remember that night, I said it to my mum and my mum was pretty angry with me, telling me ‘you shouldn’t lie to your father’ – and that stayed in me for months.

“Luckily, I signed my contract a month later. He wasn’t here anymore, and then I found much more peace within myself because I told myself, ‘Okay, I didn’t lie to my father. I told him the truth, I anticipated things, everything is okay.’

“And that was a really good moment because, as I said, Formula 1 is really the goal for every driver, and it was difficult to accept that he would go away without knowing what was the rest, but I think he would be really proud.”

Leclerc also expressed relief that his Formula 1 dream came true, not just for his own career, but so he did not have to carry the white lie with him that he told his father.

He expanded on just how much he helped him on his journey too, having put him through the expensive ladder that is motorsport.

“I think I would have lived so badly with a lie like this for the rest of my life, so I’m happy I did everything for it to happen. It happened,” Leclerc said.

“And he also sacrificed a lot for me. I never like to say that I sacrificed anything in my life, because I didn’t.

“I just did everything that I wanted to do, which was racing, as much as, yes, I wasn’t a lot of time at home when I was a kid, but I was spending my time on track, which was what I loved doing the most.

“He, on the other hand, sacrificed a lot because motorsport is unfortunately a very expensive sport.

“He had to do saving for me to be able to do what I love most which was driving, and I was aware of that – and also the fact that obviously he couldn’t see my mum that much because he was always with me on races.

“So I think he made many more sacrifices than I did, because for me it was always pure pleasure.”

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