Charles Leclerc is preparing himself for “some very big emotions” when he races as a Formula 1 driver for the first time at the Monaco Grand Prix.
The Sauber driver is just the fourth man from Monaco to attempt to qualify for a grand prix, following in the footsteps of Louis Chiron, André Testut and Olivier Beretta. The Monegasque raced on his home circuit in Formula 2 last year, but admits his first race in Monte Carlo as an F1 driver will be a special occasion.
“Well it’s going to be crazy,” Leclerc said. “Since I was born really I was looking at the grand prix every year in Monaco, dreaming one day of being part of it. Last year I was part of it in Formula 2 but this year it’s in Formula 1. There’s nothing higher than Formula 1, so it already feels great but I’m pretty sure there’s going to be some very big emotions for me this weekend.”
Asked how well he knows the circuit, Leclerc acknowledges the track is a very different prospect when it is set up for the grand prix compared to the rest of the year.
“Yeah I know it very well by bus to go to school in the morning or by walking with friends. But apart from that in a racing car I’ve only done it once which is actually not so much. It’s difficult to understand but when you’re doing it at 300kph very close to the ground you see the corners differently.
“In F2 last year I was discovering the track completely. It was not like I knew the track. I knew where it was turning and I knew where the good restaurants are but that’s the only thing I know and that doesn’t help much for the performance! It’s not a new track because I tried it last year but it’s a bit like Baku where it’s not a track I know as a racing driver yet.”
Having scored points in each of the last two races, Leclerc is in good form but is wary of trying to outperform his machinery too much on a circuit that punishes errors heavily.
“Well I think on street circuits you can always do a little bit more difference, but I also need to be careful with that. Formula 1 has become very complex now and the car is doing a massive difference so we need to see where we are and then we will see. But yeah I guess the driver can do a bit more difference there.”