Charles Leclerc gets special gift as Ferrari driver aims to add to past F1 glories

Charles Leclerc thanks fans after Italian Grand Prix win

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Scuderia Ferrari have given Charles Leclerc a very special gift to add to his collection – his race-winning SF90 from the 2019 Formula One season.

Leclerc will have fond memories from the 2019 season, his first with Ferrari after replacing Kimi Raikkonen at the team – notably becoming the first Ferrari to win at Monza since Fernando Alonso in 2010 – winning the hearts of the Tifosi.

Ferrari are looking to bounce back from their worst season in 40 years in 2020, with Leclerc now partnering the Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jnr, with the team finishing sixth in the constructors.

However with their new challenger, which had some significant changes, including a completely new power unit, revised aerodynamics, and changes to the rear of the car, they’re looking to take the fight to Mercedes and Red Bull this season.

And it started well in Bahrain for the opening race of the season, where Leclerc said he was impressed with the pace of the car in practice, eventually finishing finished sixth and eighth respectively. Only five times in 17 races last year did both Ferraris finish in the points.

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So it’s no surprised Lelerc has happy memories of 2019, after winning back-to-back races in Belgium and Italy, scoring seven pole positions, more than any other driver.

Throughout the season, he both outscored and outpaced his team-mate at the time, the four-time champion Sebastian Vettel. 

He finished fourth in the drivers standings, and subsequently signed a five-year contract until 2024 with the Italian team.

And it was that win in Monza that really won over Ferrari fans, with a sea of red overlooking the podium as flares were lit and flags were flown. The iconic prancing pony danced in the wind as Lelerc held off the two Mercedes to take one of the most memorable wins of the season.

And thinking back, Leclerc admits he gets “chills” as he scooped up his second win of his Formula One career, just a week after his first in Spa.

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It’s very difficult to find the words to describe what I felt during this race [at Monza],” said Leclerc, speaking of the win after at the Autosport International show in 2020.

“I had a lot of pressure – the whole team had a lot of pressure – because obviously we were in Italy.

“Ferrari is huge in Italy, and everyone wanted us to win so there was big pressure around the whole team.

“The week started from the Monday, which is quite different from the other grands prix because normally as drivers we start on the Thursday, but we started on the Monday with some events in Milan and things like this.

“The week started from the Monday, which is quite different from the other grands prix because normally as drivers we start on the Thursday, but we started on the Monday with some events in Milan and things like this.

“So the pressure was building up. Then doing the pole was something special already, but then I had to focus on the race and in the race I had no space to breathe.

“I had Lewis all the race at less than two seconds, I think, so a lot of pressure.

“And then to be on the podium, to finally have won the race, and to see the red army under the podium was something extremely special.

“It gave me chills and made me realise what it is like to be a Ferrari driver, which of course I realised a little bit before, but I think you really realise it once you win in Monza and see the passion [that] you can really see in the eyes of the people – the passion that they have for the brand.

“It’s unbelievable to see.”

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