That morning, the hundreds of employees in the courtyard of the Ferrari factory had eyes only for him. Three days after his historic coronation on 8 September in Monza, 21-year-old Charles Leclerc, already winner of the previous Grand Prix at Spa (Belgium), has offered himself a red mud bath in Maranello, Temple of Scuderia since 1942.
A nice symbol for the Monegasque driver who was to stay at the portal, younger, when his late friend Jules Bianchi, who died in 2015, came to turn on the test circuit.
The triumph of Leclerc on Italian soil, after nine years of dry out at home, filled with pride the streets of the small town of Emilia-Romagna, where the prancing horse capsized hearts and lost his head. Even the hair salon is called Testa Rossa!
The young man is already entitled to his own pizza based on bufala (buffalo milk cheese) and pistachios charged 8 euros to the Incontro, a trattoria near the Ferrari Museum. Like Michael Schumacher, Vettel, Massa or Barrichello he just joined in fourth gear with a post-it on the menu.
"World champion next year? We believe in it! "
"Here, the brand is more important than the driver, breath Ippolito, seated on the terrace that shivers with each passing of racing. But we give eternal respect to those who make our colors win. And then Leclerc, he's almost Italian, right? He has always dreamed of Ferrari, he speaks the language and his girlfriend (Editor's note: Giada Gianni) is of Neapolitan origin! "
Fans of the prodigy have scarcely any products to put in the trunk. For 134 euros, Paolo has just offered his 8-year-old son a mini-helmet number 16. "It's the big future of F1, ignites this tifoso florentine. We know he will not win every Sunday, but it will make us vibrate. My boy is karting and he already takes himself for him. "
There is no age to play it Leclerc one. Bigger children are more numerous in recent weeks to rush to the dear dream sellers (150 euros 10 minutes) that can be taken for another driving a 458 Special or a 488 Spider. "Success in F1 is always good for business," Vincenzo laughs between two customers. Me, I say thank you. And, above all, continue like this! "
The plywood effigy of Monegasque and his mount throne on the front of the hotel Domus, in the city center. Without his team-mate Vettel, while the rest of the drivers have been paired since 2013. "I do not know if it's a sign," Elena observes with a smile. But, in any case, the little one has taken another dimension (Editor's note: he is ahead of Vettel in general). We'll have to manage them both well. "
For the rest, it is especially the photos of Schumacher which are displayed religiously in the stalls, such as the relics of a heroic time. The German has won five consecutive world titles at the wheel of Ferrari (2000 to 2004), who returns empty-handed since 2007 and the award of the Finn Raikkonen.
Suffice to say that, despite a car inferior to Mercedes on paper, the planetary hope is back at full gallop. "When we look at its progress in recent years and its precocity, we can only be optimistic, launch Giovanna and Mauro, a couple of thirties who makes the pilgrimage from Turin (600 km return) a dozen times a year. Well, he will not be world champion this season, but why not next year? We believe in it. "