A Racing Fraternity

Passion

Formula One star Charles Leclerc tells how the familial competitiveness with his brother Arthur has evolved during their racing careers
Words: Davide Marchi
Photography: Yann Rabanier

The world of sport is full of stories of competing brothers, and motor racing is no exception.

However, of Formula One’s current twenty drivers, only one has a brother racing in a top category: Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow’s Monegasque driver, Charles Leclerc. His brother Arthur, three years his junior, is closely following in Charles’ own footsteps

Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari Racer, aged 24, on the left, with brother Arthur, 21, in his second season at the Ferrari Driver Academy

The older Leclerc was the first driver to make it all the way through the Ferrari Driver Academy, the Maranello youth programme for promising young talents, to attain a Formula One seat in the Scuderia. Arthur joined the Academy in 2020 and was immediately competitive in Formula Regional, continuing to shine this year in his maiden season in Formula 3, with two wins to his name, at Le Castellet and Zandvoort.


The two brothers don’t particularly resemble each other. But the Leclerc siblings share the exact same way of speaking, as well as the very same sharp, loud laugh. The relationship between the two men is very close. On those Formula One Grand Prix weekends when Formula 3 is part of the supporting programme, Charles tries whenever possible to make a window in his schedule so that he can watch his brother race. 

For the whole Leclerc family the Brignoles racetrack is a nostalgic location. Wearing the red of Ferrari in the place where their racing careers began, was a special occasion for the brothers  

In 2020, when Arthur competed in Formula Regional, Charles also visited several of his brother’s events in Italy. “He knows I’m there for any personal things he needs,” says Charles. “But when it comes to racing, I prefer to let him find his own way and to make progress on his own, which I think is very important in this sport.” What’s more, Charles reveals that the brotherly support is reciprocal: “Sometimes, during a race weekend, when he’s following my F1 race on TV he spots things that maybe I’ve not noticed from inside the cockpit, and he lets me know, to try and help me. Which is always nice. So, the support goes both ways.”


Although they get on well, it doesn’t mean that there is an absence of competition between them. “Absolutely!” confirms Charles. “Our relationship is the normal kind of relationship that you find between brothers when there’s not much age difference between them. We’ve always been competitive, especially when we were younger. When we were little, being three years younger than me, he always wanted to do the same things that I did. 

 

 The brothers wind down after enjoying a good day's karting; the seeds of competition were evidently sown early in the Leclerc family; Charles and Arthur walk the Brignoles Karting Loisir circuit on the south of France 

Whereas when I was eight or nine it was quite easy to beat him, as grown-ups that three-year age advantage has disappeared so nowadays it’s really hard to get the better of him, especially at tennis or padel. So that sense of competitiveness between us is still very keen.”

 

And what about karting (the photoshoot took place at the Brignoles track in the south of France where the Leclerc brothers first cut their teeth in motorsport)?

 

“At Brignoles, we went mainly just to have fun. It is a place that’s close to my heart,” says Charles. “It was great going back there with Arthur and our elder brother Lorenzo. We are all really close to our mum, too. When we were younger our whole family used to go karting there, and going back to our racing roots is always a great way to relax and have fun together between Grands Prix races. It brings back lots of old memories and it was lovely meeting up with all the people I remember from there.”

Charles (left) suits up for a drive. Arthur is progressing well through the Ferrari Driver Academy, with the ambition of attaining a coveted Formula One seat in Scuderia Ferrari

On the subject of family, Charles doesn’t hide how important his father was in his becoming a ‘pilota’. Hervé Leclerc raced in Formula 3 during the Eighties and Nineties, but, sadly, passed away in 2017 after a long illness. “My father introduced me to motorsport so I don’t know if I would have become what I am if it weren’t for him,” admits Charles. “Even though I think maybe I would have ended up as a racing driver anyway, since it’s in my DNA. It’s what I love doing the most. But I don’t think I would have made it to Formula One without him,” says Charles. “His example was fundamental for my growth, as a driver, as much as, as a person.”