Sergio’s Fave GP3 Memory

NEWS & STORIES, SERGIO'S COLUMN

It’s always great to watch how a promising driver progresses through the ranks; but to watch from the support series paddock is a total pleasure. All this despite Monza ’16 not being the best memory for Charles Leclerc: he started from pole, then went backwards to take fourth place in Race 1, and collided in Race 2 with then ART team-mate Nirei Fukuzumi. He would have to wait a bit more to seal the GP3 title.

Then we witnessed how he charged through the field in a unique driving lesson from a 19-year old, at Hungaroring in 2017. Robbed by the scrutineers from a record seventh pole position in a single F2 season, he started to show that he was the complete package when he didn’t hesitate to take fourth at the chequered flag.  Watching from the exterior of Turn 3, you could see how he danced over the marbles to get his rivals out of his way, enjoying the enormous confidence that the Prema car was capable of giving him.

That very same year, Monza rewarded Leclerc with ‘nil’ points: “In the dry in low-grip, I’m not at my best at the moment, so this is something I need to work on,” he said at the time. With such a humble statement, I attempted to approach him at Jerez, a few minutes after he had won the F2 championship. I was willing to ask him about his progress in low-grip, but he looked as if he didn’t want to talk about such a difficult scenario when the track was over 40ºC and recently resurfaced with the darkest of asphalts: “You have to accept it, you can’t change that,” was his surprising answer to a weakness he had just admitted a month and a half ago. Surely he has nowhere to hide once in Formula 1, but when did he need to hide since race #3?

In addition, he was polite and approachable over the whole weekend of the championship, even relaxed at times: A funny team picture in the morning, a lunch with the French-speaking squad in the afternoon – starring Norman Nato and Jean Alesi among others – when we witnessed how they made a good laugh at the video of a silly incident in the pitlane – no clue which one, but I bet that it was something similar to David Coulthard in Adelaide…

And of course, we will remember forever those initial tests with Ferrari in Budapest, before the summer breaks of both 2017 and 2018. We already knew at those times that we were witnessing a first glimpse of the future…

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@ P2PC2E