In Conversation with Arthur Leclerc

In Conversation with Arthur Leclerc

Edited by Dariana Almeyda


Motorsport fans have watched this young Monegasque driver make his unconventional rise to the FIA Formula 2 championship and now watch with baited breath as he works his way up the ranks. He has followed in his brother’s footsteps as a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, but he’s set to make his own name as his career continues to unfurl before him.

We caught up with Arthur ahead of his first home race on the streets of Monte Carlo for the inside scoop on what it feels like to race on the streets he grew up walking, his go-to spot in Monaco, and the joys and pitfalls of racing.  


Hey Arthur, how are you? 

I’m good, very much looking forward to this weekend!


Your first home race right, how special does that feel?

It’s very special, especially because this morning I got to wake up in my own bed! To see F2 in Monaco is also very cool and to be driving in front of the people of Monaco in a F2 car will be a very special feeling and a dream come true. Me and the team just did a track walk, which was surreal because usually I come over to this part of Monaco to chill out, but now I'm here to race.


Growing up here and driving around the city, how often have you thought about racing these streets?!

I’ve been thinking about this since I was a child…I remember being really young and watching in the grandstands near the swimming pool with my parents and my brothers. The cars were so loud that we would have to wear ear protectors to block out the sound. That’s my first real memory of the GP in Monaco. Back then my dream was to grow up and one day be one of those drivers racing around the track.


Can you tell us your story so far, the journey to Formula 2?

So my father was into motorsport himself, he raced in F3 and F1 and he was really close to the father of Jules Bianchi. When we were young, he got me, Charles and Lorenzo, my older brother, into karting. I was around three years old when I started and loved it but when I was 7 it got to a point where my family couldn't afford to keep the three of us racing. My father had to make a choice, Charles was doing really well karting internationally so they decided to continue with him. Lorenzo and I stopped racing. So I don’t actually have that much experience in karting and my career has been slightly different to what you typically would see in F3 and F2.

Then in 2014, after a six-year break we managed to find enough money for me to compete in one championship, which I won. Then I stopped again due to finances for another four years and made my comeback when I was about 17 or 18 in cars. At first, I didn’t think we would do a championship, it was more just a test to see where I was or for fun maybe, but I did well in the test and it started to get more serious then. We managed to find some funding through my uncle, and my brother helped me massively to make the season work, so I was able to do French F4 where I finished P5. Then German F4 where I finished P3, then I went into F3 and F2.


You had a brilliant podium in Melbourne recently, how is your rookie season going? 

Melbourne was great, I was very happy to be on the podium, and we came close to almost two podiums there! It was good because in the first race, we were the only car running on softs, everyone else was on mediums. The atmosphere in Melbourne was great with all of the fans, I loved it.

So I am happy but we can always do better. When you look at the weekend in Baku we lacked a little bit of performance and pace, we made a few mistakes in qualifying and we didn’t do the last lap as we ran out of time, which compromised the weekend. So the last race wasn't amazing. 


You seem to have a close relationship with your brothers Charles and Lorenzo. Can you tell us about family and how important it is to you?

We’re all very close, me, my brothers and my mother. We don’t get to see her so much throughout the year as we are always travelling but we always try when we can to come home or make family holidays to spend time together. She's based here in Monaco and this weekend we are all reunited, which is special.


Talk to us about life in motorsport, the ups and downs.

There are so many ups and downs, especially in F2. You can never predict who’s going to win each race; of course, you have an idea but you never really know as so many factors come into play. You’re always under pressure as a driver, you can have some really good and some really bad moments. You’re always just trying to improve, which I guess is the same for athletes in most sports.


Do you carry your frustrations and emotions with you after a tough weekend?

Yeah, I think you carry them with you, it’s hard not to. You carry it to the following race, where you are given another chance to put it right. For me, I think you need to have a realistic view of what's happened and try not to dwell on things too much. Turn the frustration into motivation. If I have a bad weekend I try to use the frustration to find a solution. 


What is it like to be part of the Ferrari Driver Academy and to have such an iconic team backing you?

It’s amazing, especially Ferrari. The red car is the one that I was following every time I watched racing growing up. It’s iconic and it feels like a dream coming true to be part of this programme. We get a lot of support mentally and physically from the team and get to chat with the F1 drivers. Although I actually have one of those at home haha, it's great to get that insight, it's a big help. I spend a lot of time at Maranello with the team, I’m there pretty much every week.


Who is someone that you look up to and admire?

Aryton Senna. I didn’t get the chance to see him drive in real time but he’s a massive inspiration to me. Since I was little I’ve watched his races and the films about him, my father was also a big fan of Ayrton. 


We’ve recently learnt about your brother Charles’ musical side, what are some of your own skills or passions outside of racing?

I was playing the Piano before he was, actually! So yeah I’d say I have a creative side, I’ve actually made my own music too but I’ve never made it public like Charles did! 


It seems like motorsport was the inevitable path, but if you weren’t racing what do you think you’d be doing in life?

That’s really hard, I've never thought about doing anything except racing, but maybe I’d like to be an actor.


Can you tell us something on your bucket list?

Be a Formula 1 driver and win the championship. To live with my passion.


What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Never give up.


Do you have any local recommendations for us this weekend? Anything we need to do, see or eat while we’re here?

There are so many good restaurants in Monaco, I can’t tell you my exact favourite or people will get jealous haha. But Monaco is a cool place, you should go to the Casino. Walk a lap of the track and see how tight it really is, because the TV doesn't do it justice. Go to the beach.


What’s your favourite place in Monaco?

Home. And the beach, I love the beach. 


Thank you Arthur, good luck this weekend! 

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