It was surprising when Ferrari announced Charles Leclerc as Kimi Raikkonen's replacement for the 2019 season. The Monegasque landed his dream job after just one year in Formula 1, with Sauber. After two seasons with the Scuderia, it can be said that Ferrari made the right choice.
Today, Charles Leclerc is the team leader in a new-look Ferrari lineup alongside Carlos Sainz. Ferrari will hope Leclerc can emulate the man he replaced and win the Scuderia a world championship.
Ferrari have a habit of gifting drivers their race-winning cars, and Leclerc is no exception. In mid-2020, Ferrai sent Raikkonen his SF71H, which the Finn drove during his race win at Austin in 2018. Charles Leclerc recently announced on Instagram that he also received a Ferrari Formula 1 car.
Ferrari gift Charles Leclerc his race-winning SF-90
Charles Leclerc had a great debut season at Ferrari. The Monegasque secured seven pole positions (the most of any driver in 2019) and won two races at Spa and Monza. Leclerc also beat his four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel, by 24 points.
To commemorate his fantastic season with Ferrari, the team sent him this race-winning SF-90 from 2019:
The SF-90 is extremely special for Leclerc. It helped him win at Spa, the weekend where he lost his close friend Anthoine Hubert, and a week later, Leclerc drove the car to take the checkered flag at the home race for Ferrari, Monza.
The Scuderia had not tasted success at the track since Fernando Alonso won it with the team in 2010. Things started brightly for Ferrari and Leclerc after he secured pole position during qualifying. However, the race was a different story. After an early error from Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc survived pressure from two Mercedes car for most of the race.
Leclerc and Hamilton had an amazing wheel-to-wheel battle at the 'Temple of Speed'. Ultimately, the young Ferrari driver kept the seven-time world champion behind, and took the checkered flag, sending the Tifosi into raptures.
The SF-90 won three races in a row in 2019, with Sebastian Vettel picking up the next win at Singapore. The German's win at Marina Bay was the last time Ferrari won a Formula 1 race.
Ferrari will hope that Leclerc can finally take them where they belong, challenging the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull for regular race wins and championships. It may not happen this season, but the Tifosi know that they have a special talent in Charles Leclerc.