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What Charles Leclerc’s Austria Triumph Truly Proves!

At the conclusion of the 2022 British Grand Prix, two utterly contrasting images, albeit belonging to the same team outfit, dawned upon fans. Both drenched the emotion that is Ferrari; one that can be just as pulsating and heartbreaking and often, in the space of the same Grand Prix. One saw Carlos Sainz, then, the man of the moment having just clinched his maiden race win, drowned in celebrations.

Consolation For Charles Leclerc

Emotional bear hugs ensued in the camp that had painted the Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin territory all red. 

While on the other hand, Charles Leclerc, fourth in the race, became the headlining subject of a picture that soon took over the Internet and became, arguably speaking, the most talked-about image of this year from the Italian stable.  

To some, it seemed, that team principal Mattia Binotto, immediately catching hold of his driver in the aftermath of the race, was perhaps giving his piece of mind to the young Monegasque. 

Something didn’t seem right. 

Although to many others, it seemed as though Leclerc was being consoled since the win didn’t come to him and that his team decided to support Sainz’s end, not Leclerc’s.  Though it wasn’t until Leclerc himself clarified what the truth of the matter was, which was just before the qualifying of the Austrian GP. 

"Mattia was scolding me for being too low and giving myself such a hard time in the mind, when I had delivered a good race," exclaimed Charles. 

One week later, the same Charles Leclerc, who was a sport enough to congratulate his teammate for his Silverstone victory, finds himself in a completely different emotional space. There’s no clarification to give. No explanations needed. There’s no rabble rousing happening anywhere on any faction over the Internet that often seems split between the Sainz and Leclerc fan bases. 

Ferrari have just painted Austria, the home race of their arch-rivals Red Bull, red. That’s thanks to a sensational win. And while there are still wide-eyed smiles that dominate the Ferrari camp, the only difference, however, is that one week and 71 laps since Silverstone, fortunes have changed for the noted Ferrari duo. 

Sainz, who was on top last weekend, couldn’t be more gutted given his DNF at Spielberg. That’s when he began from third on the grid. And Leclerc, who cut a pensive figure seven days ago, couldn’t be more elated. 

Though in the context of Ferrari, only one singular emotion rules supreme at this time. 

You’ve got to say, Forza Ferrari. 

No one in the legendary Ferrari camp can be blamed for taking sides. For that just hasn’t happened. And even as the sport’s glorious stable was done in as DNF hit one car when both seemed set for perhaps a top-three finish, Ferrari can exude a satisfying shout that reaches far and wide. 

The driver, who from the onset of the season posed a stoic challenge at the driver’s championship, has returned to form. And it’s taken Charles Leclerc quite some effort and not to forget, a woeful run of fortune, if not form necessarily speaking, in coming such a long way. 

And a long way it certainly has been for Leclerc.

Back To Winning Ways

Prior to winning his third race of the season, also his first-ever in Austria, Leclerc last stood on the top step of the podium seven races ago. That was back in April in Australia, which doing schoolboy math suggests, was nearly a quarter of a year ago. 

In such time, Leclerc endured 2 DNF’s for absolutely no fault of his own. He failed to score a top-three finish in as many as five consecutive races starting with Spain, Monaco, Azerbaijan, Canada and Great Britain. 

And that wasn’t all; he was a victim of a botched-up call at Monaco, an erroneous call of judgment that led him to pit again when perhaps staying out would’ve, at least, ensured the control of the race from the track position. From a fan perspective, few things could’ve been worse; Leclerc was contesting in his home event, where he has anything but a decent record. Don"t forget, he was also the pole sitter of the contest. 

But more misery followed as a string of low results for the Ferrari driver directly coincided with Red Bull rising in form and fight. At all these times where Charles suffered a dip in fortunes due to an unstable car struck too often by reliability problems, Verstappen continued to pick up the wins. 

Coming into Austria, Sainz had more podium finishes than Charles. 

Where was the boy behind such stellar results such as the P1 at Bahrain, the P2 at Jeddah and the P1 at Melbourne, gone- it wasn’t sure. Had he simply withered away or given up. The fears just kept growing. But in reality, despite the slew of misfortunes and not-so-great outings, Leclerc contested as how he’d promised at the conclusion of the previous race: British GP. 

"My motivation and desire to win is just as strong as it was at the start. So yeah, nothing changes," Charles exclaimed prior to contesting the 2022 Austrian GP. 

And there was a sense of gladness in that the famous Monegasque wasn’t bluffing of saying things for the heck of it. He meant serious business. Not once but on three different parts of the just concluded Grand Prix did Leclerc overtake the man who’s been most dominant at his own team’s home race: Max Verstappen. On each occasion that Charles breached past the defences of the usually marauding Dutchman, he had more speed, one noted. 

But perhaps truth be told, he had the most important thing of them all: true grit and unshakeable intent. For you cannot truly bounce back unless you haven’t fallen behind. Leclerc saw not one but three stellar pole position efforts raised to the ground, two of them down to no fault of his. At Monaco, his team made the wrong call. At Baku, his wasn’t the most dependable car. There was little that he could’ve done except to carry on fighting. 

This is why when the famous winner of the 2019 Italian GP, one who in his debut year with the scarlet red team beat Hamilton in the latter’s dominant venue, took Austria by a storm one thing seems so true. And it’s what the great Sir Winston Churchill had said. Success is going from one failure to another without losing enthusiasm. 

For this is precisely what Charles Leclerc has demonstrated. He went from one failure to another- as seen on more than one occasion this year- without losing his head and without losing the enthusiasm to fight it out. 

Forza Charles. Forza Ferrari. 

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