Charles Leclerc recalls childhood encounter with Michael Schumacher
Charles Leclerc has recalled a previous meeting with the biggest Ferrari legend of them all, Michael Schumacher.
Leclerc would have been just three years old when Schumacher won his first world title in the Ferrari red but given the German’s continued success over the coming years, the image of Schumacher in a Ferrari would no doubt have formed an early memory in the young life of the Monégasque.
Like many current F1 drivers, Schumacher holds a special place in Leclerc’s heart and although the current Ferrari man has previously admitted that Ayrton Senna was his idol, he did list Schumacher as one of his favourites.
Leclerc is now in the position of trying to emulate some of the success of Schumacher with just one Ferrari driver, Kimi Räikkönen, having won the World Championship since Schumacher’s last in 2004.
Ahead of the 2023 season in which Leclerc will be one of the title favourites, the Ferrari man has remembered back to the first time he met the legendary driver.
“One day when I was karting, Michael Schumacher was doing some F1 test,” he said in a new biography about him called Le Prodige. “It was a really special moment.
“I remember entering the paddock and we had the chance to meet him, it was very exciting. Fortunately there was not a lot of people, so he took some time to talk to us
“He signed our suits, talked with us before going back to his garage. It was really sweet and I was very impressed.
“I don’t even remember what we were talking about because all I could focus on was his red suit. I never thought I would one day drive for the red team.”
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During the off-season, Leclerc was given the opportunity to drive the Ferrari F2003 that powered Schumacher to his sixth world title.
Leclerc took to the track of the Yas Marina circuit and tweeted “what a day” followed by on-board footage of him behind the wheel.
Another memory recounted by Leclerc in the biography is the first time he visited Maranello, the home of Ferrari, and although he did not make it into the factory, the trip was enough to leave a lasting impression.
“My first memory of Maranello was with Jules [Bianchi],” Leclerc said of his friend who tragically lost his life in 2015 following a crash at Suzuka the previous year.
“He had a photoshoot and he tried to make me come inside with him but it didn’t work, so I had to wait outside. But it was then when I realised that the whole town was dedicated to Ferrari.
“I sat outside, in the parking lot for two hours, trying to imagine what the inside of the building looked like.
“In my head I was picturing something like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the Oompa Loompas running around.”
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