• Interview, video & photos: Alex Vernardis
  • Text: Guillaume Alvarez

“I believe Karting has to be the first step for any driver interested in making a career in motor racing and maybe getting to Formula 1 someday,” the young Monegasque told us when we met him at last year’s F1 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. “Some drivers haven’t passed through karting but it has brought me a lot, especially for the racecraft, how you see and manage your races, how you speak with your team.”

“In karting, you don’t talk much with an engineer but more with your mechanics. It’s important to know how to tell them what you want. It’s something that helps you in the future, to know what you want with the machines you have in your hands, whether it is a kart or a car.”

“The vision of the race is extremely important and I think that most of it I have learned through karting. Definitely, it’s something crucial if you want to learn how to become a better driver.”

© Alex Vernardis / The RaceBox

Leclerc’s career began when he was eight years old after he discovered karting on the track of Brignoles. Following racing success in France, he moved up to KF3 in 2010 and won the Monaco Kart Cup. The next season, he added to his tally the FIA Karting Academy Trophy along with the KF3 World Cup. Those impressive results caught the attention of Nicolas Todt who took him under his wing with All Road Management, under the advice from Leclerc’s godfather, the late Jules Bianchi.

Stepping to KF2 in 2012 with ART GP, Leclerc kept pilling up strong performances as runner-up in both the FIA Karting KF2 European Championship and the U18 World Championship while winning the WSK Euro Series title. In his final season, 2013, at the wheel of KZ karts, he won the South Garda Winter Cup (KZ2), finished sixth in the European Championship while missing the World title to Max Verstappen.

Having proved enough, Leclerc was ready to make the switch to single-seater series on his way to the pinnacle of motorsport…

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