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Macau Grand Prix 2015

Teen racer Charles Leclerc raring to go in Macau as one of the sport's hot new talents

Monaco-born driver has made a huge impact in his rookie year in Europe and hopes to shine at Macau Grand Prix

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 November, 2015, 10:12pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 November, 2015, 10:12pm

Teenager Charles Leclerc has arrived for the 62nd Macau Grand Prix with the world of motor sport seemingly at his feet after a breakthrough season that saw him named the FIA European F3 rookie of the year.

Four wins for the season in Europe – and eight podium finishes in his first nine races in the senior ranks – have had the F3 faithful heralding the talent shown by the 18-year-old Van Amersfoort Racing (VAR) driver.

I want to arrive in Formula One when I am more than ready and Formula 3 is a good choice in that I can learn and develop
Charles Leclerc

“A superstar in the making, his sheer potential eclipsing anyone else who raced in F3 alongside him in 2015,” was how Motorsport.com described the season just gone.

For his part, however, Leclerc is keeping the focus on what’s right in front of him, rather than on what the horizon might offer as he sets out to tackle the tricky Guia circuit for the first time, knowing, of course, the greats of racing who have gone out there before him and still with comparisons to former VAR – and current Formula One – star Max Verstappen ringing in his ears.

“I am taking things step by step,” says Leclerc. “I want to arrive in Formula One when I am more than ready and Formula 3 is a good choice in that I can learn and develop.

“And I raced Max all through my karting years and we fought each other at the finish, so I have always had the comparisons with him and I am okay with them.”

The Monaco-born teenager flew in from Amsterdam on Monday and had by Tuesday afternoon been out for a poke around the circuit and the city that surrounds it before he gets a first taste of the track behind the wheel of his Dallara Volkswagen during Thursday morning’s first practice session.

“I don’t know much other than it is a street circuit but I have been around the track a bit and it looks like a fun circuit. I love city circuits so it will be really good,” said Leclerc.

“I grew up looking at the Monaco Grand Prix so I love this atmosphere and I am looking forward to getting out there and trying things for myself.”

After moving up from the 2014 Formula Renault 2.0 Alps series, where he had finished second, Leclerc said had been confident of holding his own and more in the F3 ranks this year, alongside the likes of the European series’ eventual champion – and last year’s Macau Grand Prix Champion – Felix Rosenqvist.

The top four finishers in this year’s European F3 drivers title will resume battle this weekend, among 22 drivers from the series to have made the trip to Macau. Leclerc eventually finished fourth outright and his rivals will know what to expect after he hit the track flying this season.

“We did winter testing and we were really fast, always in the top three,” explained Leclerc. “We arrived at the first race quite confident but obviously there were still had doubts from some people who didn’t know me when I arrived for testing.

“We were really fast from the first race which was a bit of a surprise because I was a rookie among all these experienced drivers so they didn’t really expect me. But from another point of view we were prepared, we worked hard and after testing it wasn’t that much of a surprise for us, how we went. We were quite confident.”

And confidence, the young star said, is the key to success in motorsport.

“I have a fighting spirit,” he said.

“Every time I go in the car I want to be in pole position. I like to work hard to get the things I want and I think things helps in motor sport.

“The more work you do the easier things will become for you.

“I just love driving in general and I have felt really good with this team.

“Being a race driver means you are not much at home but if you do it right it’s the best job in the world.

“We did winter testing and we were really fast, always in the top three,” explained Leclerc. “We arrived at the first race quite confident but obviously there were still had doubts from some people who didn’t know me when I arrived for testing.

“We were really fast from the first race which was a bit of a surprise because I was a rookie among all these experienced drivers so they didn’t really expect me.” But from another point of view we were prepared, we worked hard and after testing it wasn’t that much of a surprise for us, how we went. We were quite confident.”

And confidence, the young star said, is the key to success in motorsport.

“I have a fighting spirit,” he said. “Every time I go in the car I want to be in pole position. I like to work hard to get the things I want and I think things helps in motorsport. The more work you do the easier things will become for you.

“I just love driving in general and I have felt really good with this team. Being a race driver means you are not much at home but if you do it right it’s the best job in the world.”