Massimo Rivola, the former head of the Ferrari Driver Academy, reflects on Charles Leclerc, ahead of the Monégasque racing driver’s first Formula 1 season with the Maranello team:
“I worked with Vettel at his Toro Rosso debut and with Alonso when he debuted at Minardi, but only in Fernando I saw the same racing rage that Charles has. Charles always pulls something special out of the qualifying lap.” – he said – “Charles is very determined and only drives to win, an instinct all great champions have in common. In his case, I believe that his character has strengthened with the tragedies he suffered in his life. A couple of times Charles left me speechless: in 2017 he was already dominating the F2 championship, when he was disqualified in Belgium and was forced to start last. But he replied: ‘I’m happy, I can finally overtake a few drivers.” – Massimo Rivola added.
“Then, when the Baku F2 week started, he saw his father Hervé die, but took the first plane and arrived at the track, winning the race. Many in his place would have collapsed. I believe and hope that Ferrari will give both the same opportunities, and that the best will prevail. People say his first year at Ferrari can be considered an apprenticeship, but be sure: Charles Leclerc will try to win straight right away.” – the former head of the Ferrari Driver Academy explained – “The FDA members organized a party in December, Charles Leclerc was sick, but he sent me a video message saying: If my dreams are coming true, I owe it to you. But I’m the one to thank him. Many times.” – he concluded.
Massimo Rivola, 46, has run the Ferrari Driver Academy since 2016, succeeding Luca Baldisserri in the role, and in that time he has overseen Charles Leclerc’s progression to a race seat with the Maranello team. Prior to that, he was Ferrari’s sporting director, which followed a spell as team manager at Toro Rosso.