The Monegasque ready for the Italian GP he won two years ago believes in relaunching the Scuderia: «Never lost his enthusiasm, never doubted». And on Sainz: “I always beat him at chess”
Charles Leclerc, in Monza won a
memorable Italian GP in 2019
; he called his boat “Monza”. It is the place of the heart and many expect miracles from it. Instead?
«I think it will be a difficult weekend given the characteristics of the track in relation to our car. But we had more than one surprise this year where we didn’t expect to be so competitive. We will give everything, from the first to the last kilometer, with the hope of giving and giving ourselves a joy, even if on paper this is not the best circuit for Ferrari ».
It is the year of the Hamilton-Verstappen challenge. Which of the two do you dislike the least?
“Honestly, I don’t have an allergy to one or the other. I disliked Max when we were younger and fought against each other with karts or small single-seaters, while Lewis, at that time, was already racing in F1. Now there are only two drivers that I would like to reach by driving my car ».
How many times does he repeat to himself: the strongest am I?
“I’m not a person who aims to compare myself to others and therefore I don’t think such a thing very often. I prefer to focus on what I can and should do. I know what my weaknesses are and I am working on them all the time, every time I make a mistake I dedicate a lot of time to analysis and reflection, I try to understand with the utmost accuracy where wrong behavior comes from. Then, like many other riders, I am convinced that I have the potential to emerge. So, I want to work hard to bring out the best version of myself ».
To aim for the world title with Ferrari, wait until 2022. Does trust always prevail over frustration?
“All time. We are aware that we have taken a step back after 2019 but from that moment on we have always worked in the right direction, albeit in small steps, due in particular to the technical regulation. This makes me confident about the future. We have been improving for some time and there are no reasons to think about reversing the trend by moving towards 2022. I believe in the Ferrari project, I have never doubted, never lost enthusiasm ».
Smart, elegant, gifted. What does he find when he thinks about his faults?
«Sometimes I let myself go, the desire to do better leads me to make a mistake. It is a flaw that has been seen, I believe. In the most difficult moments I tried to combine something special, different from any other rider, to risk something that others cannot do. But there is one thing I want to say: I have always grown up in the face of a wrong assessment. The price is also high because you are an F1 and Ferrari driver, but it is part of the game. Taking an extreme risk by trying to earn a few tenths means you may be doing the opposite, losing ground instead of progressing. But I am convinced that within this economy, a driver must seek perfection ».
Does running in conditions of technical inferiority inevitably involve taking risks at the cost of making a mistake?
“Yes, it is a question of mental approach. When you are fighting in the middle of the group you have to behave differently than when it comes to facing a challenge with a world title at stake ».
He often plays chess with his partner Carlos Sainz. Who is stronger?
“Arriving here this morning, Carlos has beaten me twice and for that I am really angry. But I am the one who wins much more often. So the answer is: I am stronger ».
The feeling is that among you pilots there is respect but not friendship. Is there a colleague with whom you would like to go on vacation?
“The lack of friendship is something I’ve seen the most in the past, the generation before mine was made up of people who were very little connected to each other. Now the situation is very different. I get along well with the guys I run against. With Verstappen or with Lando Norris… But if I have to choose a friend, I say Pierre Gasly. We’ve known each other since we were six, we ran and went on vacation together, the bond is particularly strong ».
However, the anti-racism demonstration before the start seems to be the only moment of true cohesion between you. To what extent is it authentic?
“There is a reason that goes beyond any interpretation. It is a significant and important act, especially for the youngest. I always think that a child or a boy, in the stands or in front of the TV, can ask his parents why they are behaving and receive answers that focus on a fundamental theme. Something that perhaps generates other questions, an awareness of what surrounds them and surrounds each of us ».
Many fans are dealing with a dream: Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, drivers Charles Leclerc and Valentino Rossi. Realizable?
“Ah, well, nothing is impossible even if honestly there has never been a discussion on this subject, it’s really too early to think about it. I would like to race in Le Mans. Mattia (Binotto ed) I think he wants to keep an absolute priority on the F1 program but we will talk about this if anything when the conditions are right to do so ».
Art and photography. Are these your passions?
“Yup. Plus the art of photography although I like taking pictures everywhere. And music more than art. For me it is a pleasure to play the piano. It is good for me, I can think of other things, of everything that is not part of motoring ».
The tension before the start is always palpable. How do you manage emotionality?
«It is a specific job, an attitude that I developed especially between the ages of 12 and 16 with the specialists of Formula Medicine, an Italian center that deals with the psychophysical preparation of drivers. It is necessary to identify the mental form that allows you to make two hundred percent. Once identified, some sort of procedure applies. I do it constantly, when I am too nervous or too calm and in this way I can refocus myself, regaining possession of that area, let’s say, that allows me to perform at my best. I get active, alert my reflexes, practice a particular breathing ».
«The most important thing to understand a machine is the c …». The phrase is by Niki Lauda. Confirmation?
“I think every driver feels the car differently. It is a personal matter. Certainly the c … is essential to feel, for example, oversteer or understeer, even if I trust my hands tight on the steering wheel more. From there I can understand how a set-up works, I absorb every little adjustment ».
Ever safer machines. Yet he lost two friends in a few years, Jules Bianchi and Anthoine Hubert. Is it true that a driver should never be afraid?
«I speak for myself. And I say that I am never afraid when I drive. If you thought about the risk I run when facing a curve, well, better go home. This does not prevent serious accidents from happening and we can lose a loved one but this cannot interfere with a profound attitude, questioning the love I have for this sport. When I get in the car I just want to be the fastest on the track ».
He is loved, happily engaged. In addition to winning the World Cup, is there a secret desire to be fulfilled?
“Definitely start a family. It is not an immediate but present goal because the family is the most important thing in life. Then, with my brothers, I would like to climb. I dream of Everest but it is a bit too high as the first test also because at the moment I am not at all expert on the subject. So we would like to start with Mont Blanc, and then tackle higher mountains. It is a challenge that attracts me, different from the ones I usually meet. Unlike a machine, nature is not controllable and it is nice that it is so ».
He lost his father very young. Who is the most important person when you need good advice?
«If it is a work-related problem, I turn to Nicolas Todt, my manager. The first reference is still Lorenzo, my older brother. He knows me and he knows the motoring world. I talk to him, to Arthur, my little brother, and to my mother. The family, as I said, is always fundamental ».
September 9, 2021 (change September 9, 2021 | 10:02 am)
© REPRODUCTION RESERVED