Charles Leclerc had his $320,000 watch stolen in the Italian city of Viareggio on Easter Monday; Leclerc says he is “fine” but says police hunt for thieves hasn’t been “smooth”; Watch Emilia Romagna GP live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend
Last Updated: 21/04/22 5:42pm
Charles Leclerc insists he is “fine” and “fully focussed” on the Emilia Romagna GP after being the victim of a robbery earlier in the week in Italy.
Leclerc, F1’s championship leader, had his watch stolen while with friends and his trainer, Andrea Ferrari, in the Tuscan city of Viareggio on Easter Monday.
According to reports in the local media, Leclerc had stopped for photographs with fans before a crowd formed around him and a thief managed to remove the $320,000 (£266,000) special edition Richard Mille watch from his left wrist.
Ferrari driver Leclerc was unharmed and reportedly chased after the thieves, and local police launched an investigation afterwards.
Speaking to media for first time since the incident on Thursday ahead of the Emilia Romagna GP, Leclerc told reporters in Imola: “It hasn’t been a great experience but I cannot say much more than that.”
Leclerc also admitted that finding the thieves was not going as “smooth” as reported – but insisted it wouldn’t “hurt” him this weekend – when he will be looking to extend his 34-point title lead.
“Everything is going on with the police and they are trying to find them,” said Leclerc. “It hasn’t been as smooth as what I’ve read.
“But overall I am fine and fully focussed on the weekend. It won’t hurt me for this weekend.”
Norris: I might need a bodyguard
Lando Norris says Leclerc’s experience has led him to contemplate the need for a bodyguard.
The McLaren driver told Sky Sports News: “The people who do such things are not fans, are they?
“It’s a tough and cruel world out there and there’s a lot of nasty people. You’ve got to be a little bit careful every now and then, and more when you have the fame of Charles or you’re in Formula 1.
“I don’t know if I’m at the phase of needing a bodyguard, because I don’t think I do – it’s a tough one.
“I feel bad for him and I’ve been through similar things. Not the nicest thing, but I’m sure he’s alright.”
‘Ferrari must not overdo things in Imola’
Turning his attention to the race weekend, which will see qualifying take place on Friday ahead of the first Sprint of the season on Saturday, Leclerc has warned Ferrari not to get carried away with the excitement of a home Grand Prix amid the team’s excellent start to the season.
It is the first time since 2017 that Ferrari have appeared to be in genuine title contention at this stage of the season, which is likely to result in an even more frenetic atmosphere than usual in Imola.
Leclerc’s victory in Melbourne two weeks ago was his second in the opening three races, which has enabled him to open up a 34-point lead at the top of the standings.
“I’m very excited,” Leclerc said. “To be at home for Ferrari, I know that in past years we’ve had so much support here, and now to be here in this position, I know that it’s going to be special.
“But I think the most important thing for us this weekend is to not overdo things, which is easy whenever there’s excitement and whenever things are going well.
“So we need to stay focussed on our job, not try to do too much and hopefully it will be a positive weekend.”