In the hangar, as classic cars are spruced and renewed all around, I ask him about that juvenile first image he had of the Ferrari compound. He once pictured Wonka-like magic taking place beyond the gate, industrious Oompa Loompas everywhere. Has the adult reality been underwhelming, set against an adolescent’s imagination? Leclerc, in answer, gestures around the garage, where seamstresses restitch ancient leather seats and a convertible worth $8 million has been plucked to bits by mechanics, its engine forged over from scratch. Wonkas, Oompa Loompas all, the employees here help turn unlikely ideas into something tangible. “It’s beyond what I imagined,” he says.
During my visit to Maranello, the Ferrari publicists made it clear they would not tolerate their drivers being questioned about getting injured or dying in the course of the job. Now, in the garage, Leclerc brings up the forbidden subject himself—better to explain how much he