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Ferrari drivers admit their wonder when visiting Maranello for the first time

Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have admitted to feeling a little bit starstruck by the lure of Maranello when they first visited.

Leclerc Sainz Bahrain
To news overview © Ferrari

Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have said they were starstruck the first time they respectively visited Ferrari's Formula 1 base at Maranello.

Leclerc is a graduate of the Ferrari Driver Academy, the first to race in F1 for the team, while Sainz was an outside signing for the 2021 campaign, replacing Sebastian Vettel.

And although the pair were excited by their arrival in Italy and keen to get to work, they both had something of a false start when it came to Maranello.

Leclerc thought Maranello was full of Oompah Loompas

Leclerc actually first visited the factory as a child, at the invitation of a family friend who already worked for the team.

The only problem was that he was not allowed inside, or even onto the Italian complex – but all this did was add to the mystery and intrigue of what was going on inside the four walls.

"I sat in the car park for two hours," the Monegasque explained in an interview with GQ Magazine.

"[I was] trying to guess what it was like inside. I imagined [it was like] Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Oompa Loompas running around."

Leclerc is referring to the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, where Gene Wilder's eccentric eponymous character is assisted in running the factory by small, orange-skinned, green-haired humans.

It was also re-released in 2005 with Johnny Depp in the lead role of Wonka, and a slight tweak of the title.

Not the Ferrari entrance Sainz wanted

Although Sainz knew he was joining Ferrari early in 2020, he could not visit Maranello as he was still contracted to McLaren at the time.

He was signed as Vettel's replacement before the COVID-delayed season got under way, meaning, officially, he had to wait almost a year before he could fulfil the ambition of walking through the front doors of Maranello as a Ferrari driver.

Only, it did not quite happen like that, as he explained.

"[It was a] secret expedition, because I was meant to wait for my contract with McLaren to end," said the Spanish driver.

Using the darkness as a cover, Sainz was indeed introduced to Maranello for the first time but "I came in the back [entrance]!", referring to the cloak and dagger tactics used by Ferrari to get him in.

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