The Ferrari star secured his first podium finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix, and has been tipped by many to challenge not just his Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel, but also Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton for the Drivers’ Championship this year.
Whilst he was seen as the second driver for Ferrari, he has certainly challenged that view and shown that he will not be afraid to go quicker than Vettel.
In Bahrain, he performed an ambitious overtaking manoeuvre on the start/finish straight to take the lead from the German.
Speaking to reporters in Shanghai, the star insisted that he will be a force to be reckoned with this year.
“After the first race nobody sees me as a title contender,” he said.
“After the second race everyone sees me as a title contender. So things can go very quick in Formula 1.
“I need to focus on what I’m doing in the car, try to work as hard as possible and trying to do the best job in the car and outside the car and then I’m pretty sure the results will come.
“Then we’ll see. We are only at the third race in the season, it’s very early on. We’ll see how we get on in the next few races. But hopefully we keep the momentum from Bahrain going.”
Leclerc was criticised by some fans for the manoeuvre against Vettel, as he had been told by Ferrari bosses to stay behind.
But the Monegasque driver insisted he will not simply wait around for his team-mate.
“As I’ve shown in Australia the interest of the team is extremely important,” he continued.
“But in this particular situation I think I had quite a big pace advantage at this moment of the race and I had the opportunity in the straight and I just didn’t see myself lifting and staying behind.
“So I just went for the opportunity. It was a safe pass and I went for it.
“I think we had good pace all weekend long. I was very confident with the car, very at ease with the car during all the weekend.
“Seb was a little bit less, so I just focused on my race. I had the opportunity on lap six and I went for it.”