Charles Leclerc, a 2016 member of the Ferrari Driver Academy who is currently competing in the GP3 Series for ART Grand Prix, will get his first taste of a Formula One car when he drives the VF-16 for Haas F1 Team on July 8 during the first practice session (FP1) for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Haas F1 Team driver Esteban Gutiérrez, a Ferrari Driver Academy alumnus, has relinquished his seat to allow Leclerc to obtain valuable Formula One experience. Following Silverstone, the 18-year-old Leclerc will reappear in FP1 sessions July 22 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, July 29 at the German Grand Prix, Sept. 30 at the Malaysian Grand Prix and Nov. 25 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. In each session, Leclerc will drive Haas F1 Team’s No. 21 car.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to get seat time in a Formula One car and I can’t thank Haas F1 Team and Esteban enough,” said Leclerc, who won the season-opening GP3 Series race May 14 at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. “I’m honored by the faith Haas F1 Team and Ferrari have in me. This is an important step toward my ultimate goal of becoming a Formula One driver.”
Leclerc has quickly risen through the karting ranks and into single-seat, open-wheel machines. After winning 11 karting championships between 2005 and 2013, including an outright title in the 2012 WSK Euro Series Championship, Leclerc graduated to Formula Renault 2.0 in 2014, collecting a pole, two wins and nine podiums in 14 races. In 2015, Leclerc moved to the FIA Formula 3 EuroSeries, earning three poles, four wins and 13 podiums in 33 races.
“Charles Leclerc is highly regarded by Ferrari and his record speaks for itself,” said Guenther Steiner, team principal, Haas F1 Team. “We’re happy to provide this opportunity and help develop the next generation of Formula One drivers. Credit also goes to Esteban for sharing his racecar and serving as a mentor to Charles.”
Many questions remained over Ferrari’s young driver development program after the tragic passing of Jules Bianchi but the team said they are fully committed to the program and Leclerc is proof they are trying to find seat time for their young drivers.