Charles Leclerc says he once visited Ferrari in Maranello as a teenager only to be barred from entering the factory, a turndown that only boosted his motivation to race one day for the Scuderia.
As a young karter who ambitioned to race one day in Formula 1, Ferrari was naturally part of the Monegasque's dreams.
But when Leclerc's 'big brother' and godfather Jules Bianchi – a member of Ferrari's Diver Academy at the time – suggested that his protégé accompany him to Maranello, the young teenage racer seized the opportunity with great enthusiasm.
Alas, as the pair made their way to Ferrari's golden gates, Leclerc was barred from entering the Scuderia's domain.
"The very first time I came here, I couldn't come inside Scuderia Ferrari because I was 12-years-old maybe," he recalled in a Shell-sponsored video.
"With my godfather Jules Bianchi, who was a driver for the Ferrari Driver Academy at that time, I asked him 'Please, can I come with you?'. He asked the security at the entrance, and they said no, we're sorry but we cannot accept people from the outside."
It was a big disappointment for the aspiring young champion, but one that ultimately fed his burning desire to race one day for Ferrari.
"From that moment onward, and even before, I always wanted to be a Ferrari driver.
"Coming inside in front of those doors and not being able to see everything that was inside, I think that gave me even more motivation to be working as hard as ever to be able to one day come here."
"i always question myself. in some times in my career, i just didn't believe. i thought i wasn't good enough" i am crying 🥺 pic.twitter.com/ihHpEgvRlv
— clara (@leclercsletters) January 21, 2023
Leclerc hard work paid off when he was promoted to F1 with Alfa Romeo in 2016 with Ferrari's support and then joined the Scuderia the following year.
Since, the Monegasque has won five Grands prix with the Italian outfit and he ambitions to add many more wins to his track record with the House of Maranello in the future.