Ferrari's Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc was the victim of a robbery after returning to Italy ahead of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix this weekend, with the world championship leader losing his watch reportedly worth $320,000 (£245,000).
According to reports in Italy, Leclerc was out with a group of friends including trainer Andrea Ferrari in the Tuscan city of Viareggio as he enjoyed the Easter Monday celebrations. The group were walking in the poorly lit Via Salvatori area when Leclerc was recognised by fans at around 10pm.
Despite a frantic jostle for space, the 24-year-old signed autographs and took photographs with excited fans desperate to meet the Ferrari superstar. Amid the frenzy, a thief managed to secure a pricey prize by snatching Leclerc’s watch from his wrist, escaping before the Monegasque driver had even realised.
After coming to the realisation that the Richard Mille watch – worth approximately £250,000 – had been stolen, Leclerc reported the incident to local police. They are now investigating the incident and looking to whether the robbery was pre-meditated or opportunistic.
Leclerc’s trainer Ferrari, who hails from Viareggio, took to Instagram on Tuesday to publicise his frustration with the incident. He complained about the lack of lighting in the area of the city where the robbery occurred, citing that it has been the subject of discussion by residents who want better lighting.
“Via Salvatori has been completely in the dark for months,” Ferrari wrote in his Instagram post. “We have been reporting this for months. Well, yesterday evening in Via Salvatori, they have robbed us. Think of arranging the lamps sooner or later? Asking for a friend.”
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Swiss luxury watch maker Richard Mille is a long-time sponsor of Leclerc, and the company – which also sponsor a number of other figures and teams in F1 – became an official partner of Ferrari last year. It appears the expensive watches donned by drivers are becoming a target, as McLaren star Lando Norris had his prototype Richard Mille taken from his wrist during the hectic aftermath of the Euro 2020 final at Wembley Stadium.
Leclerc’s profile is certainly being raised thanks to his performances on-track. The Ferrari star has won two of the first three races – including last time out when Leclerc reached the chequered line first to win the Australian Grand Prix.
He now holds a 34-point lead over his nearest challenger, which is British Mercedes star George Russell. Leclerc returned to Monaco after his win Down Under, and was spotted at the Monte Carlo Masters tennis tournament last week.
The 22-race F1 2022 campaign – which is expected to return to a record 23 races in the near future once a Russian Grand Prix replacement is found – continues with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on April 24.
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