I did not know Ferrari F1 driver Charles Leclerc played piano in his off time, but I’m not surprised. After all, we consider racing drivers to be one-dimensional people who are cryogenically frozen between races and travel in suspended animation in the teams’ massive trailers, thawed out before races, and belted into hugely powerful cars.
Leclerc is not that person. At the very least, he plays piano at some point when he’s not jockeying a multimillion-dollar formula racer, and his first—and perhaps only, as far as I know—release proves it. (Even though he's not the only F1 musician.) Leclerc's “AUS23 (1:1)” reportedly was recorded for the Australian Grand Prix, mixed, and thrown up on Spotify this week. It’s not bad. In fact, I kinda like it.
I should preface this part with: I listen to classical music fairly regularly. I listen to a lot from the Baroque era, Bach, and some early American composers. Contemporary classical is fine—Alexis Ffrench is probably my go-to—but also Max Richter et al. That’s a long way to say: I’m no authority on classical piano, but I’m not a newcomer. That’s why I’m only mildly qualified to offer my comments here, and I know enough to get eviscerated in the comments by others who can’t wait to tell the internet how right they are. Good for those folks.
Nonetheless, here’s my instant review of Charles Leclerc’s newly released single: The song starts off innocuously, with equal turns of melancholy and hope from the piano that leads with small orchestral support. The first act of the song is a slow burn, building up with simple repetitive—but not call-and-response—melodies until 1:10 when the second act starts. The pacing and structure crescendos into a short action, with reprieves taking over. The third act starts around 3:30, with resolution and a simpler, repetitive melody finishing at the song’s final four-minute, 11-second mark.
You can listen here all you want and tell me how wrong I am. That’s your prerogative. But raise your hand if you thought “F1 Driver Releases New Single on Spotify” would sound like this. See? We’re surprised together.
Some compare the song to Giovanni Rinaldi, while I hear more Alexis Ffrench. Opinions among staffers at The Drive have ranged from David Lanz to a new-age Erik Satie. (I get the Satie thing, Leclerc seems every bit like the tragic genius Satie was.) It doesn’t really matter what we say, Leclerc’s first song isn’t objectively bad. In fact, it’s better than most of the racing this year, and it says a lot about how deep those still waters run while he’s waiting for a competitive car underneath him.
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