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Desert Passion

For Arthur Leclerc this year’s Formula 3 race in Bahrain was also the chance to take the Ferrari Roma for a spin. And so it was that, on a windy day, a spark was lit
Words: Davide Marchi
Photography: Justin Leighton

Arthur Leclerc shares his aggressive driving style with his elder brother, Charles, who is the only driver thus far to have made it all the way from the Ferrari Driver Academy to racing for Scuderia Ferrari in Formula One.

The younger sibling, born on 14 October 2000, is following in his brother’s footsteps and for the second consecutive year the Monegasque driver is representing the Maranello academy in Formula 3, racing with the Prema team.


Leclerc buckles up ready to take the powerful Ferrari Roma out into the desert

If he’s on the front of the grid he is very hard to pass, and even when he starts from further back in the pack, he is still in with a chance of winning. The race stats confirm his attacking reputation: in last season’s 21 races he made up no fewer than 79 places, improving on his start position an astonishing 15 times. He dropped places on only two occasions, and on two others he finished where he’d started, whilst a couple of races saw him fail to finish. 

“It’s in my nature to always push whenever I can,” says Arthur. “I won’t settle for a place if I realise that I can do better with the car I’ve been given. Sometimes I make mistakes, because on a qualifying lap, or in a duel, you can’t always be perfect. But I don’t think I could pursue my dreams, my goals, if I changed my approach to racing.”

The Ferrari Roma's V8 engine will propel the car from 0-60mph in just 3.4 seconds  

But ahead of his latest feats out on the track he spent a day driving a Ferrari Roma through the streets of Manama, the capital city of Bahrain. “White isn’t the first colour that springs to mind for a car made at Maranello,” admits Arthur with a smile. “But when I saw the Roma in that special AVUS shade, combined with that Rosso Ferrari interior, I changed my mind.” 

Driving the Roma, he says, “was a whole new experience”, making the young racer realise “just how versatile a Prancing Horse car can feel”. 

“In the corners, the steering feels pretty much as precise as in a single-seater, so that I almost felt like I was at the wheel of my Formula 3 car,” he said.

Leclerc marvelled at the handling of the Ferrari Roma, comparing it to his F3 car

Ferrari refers to evoking the ‘Nuova Dolce Vita’ when describing the image of the Roma, something that Arthur feels is very apt. “It’s a car you could certainly drive every day, even in Monaco where I live, despite its narrow streets and alleyways. 

“The Roma’s soundproofing is wonderful. To test it, I turned on the radio and I could hear the music perfectly. But to be honest, I turned it off straight away because, for me, the best kind of music is the kind of sound made by the Ferrari V8 engine!”

Leclerc walks away after another memorable drive

He did use ‘Sport’ mode for a while, one of the five options available on the steering wheel. “And,” he admits, “I couldn’t resist trying ‘Race’ mode too: you immediately get the torque from the engine and you can feel the true extent of the sporty nature of the V8.” So, although he didn’t get to push the car very much, he found the Roma incredibly satisfying to drive. 

“I selected ‘Esc-Off’, which de-activates electronic aids, and had some fun controlling the car with some counter-steering. Even then, the car follows the driver’s input with its precise steering, making it feel really safe at all times. I really had fun with it.” He did indeed.