Leclerc confirms travel woes but ‘it could have been worse’

Date published: October 22 2021 - Michelle Foster

Charles Leclerc speaks to the media. Austin October 2021

Charles Leclerc made an unexpected stopover in New York due to a mix-up over his travel exemption document.

The Ferrari driver was scheduled to arrive in Austin earlier this week but his departure from Nice didn’t go according to plan.

Covid regulations in United States meant the drivers, as well as the rest of the F1 personnel, needed a National Interest Exception (NIE) document to enter the country.

But a mix up in Nice meant Leclerc’s NIE wasn’t accepted at the time, forcing the driver and his trainer Andrea Ferrari to take a different route to Austin.

With Leclerc’s NIE eventually accepted, he and Ferrari caught a different flight to America, stopping over in New York on their way to Austin.

Ferrari said on Instagram that “it could have been worse!”

Explaining the troubles, Leclerc told the media in Austin: “It was very cool, it wasn’t actually planned.

“My NIE hadn’t been accepted at the airport, so I couldn’t take the original flight, so we changed the flight and went to New York last minute.

“I managed to spend one day in New York, which was my first time, which was incredible, what a city. I really, really enjoyed it.

“And then I went to Milwaukee for the first NBA match of the season, which was crazy with the ceremony of the rings too.

“Just an amazing experience, and here I am in Austin, ready to get into the car.”

He added: “It was just one guy at the airport of Nice that for some reason didn’t really know what an NIE was, and I got stuck there.

“He only realised one minute before closing the flight that the NIE was OK, but I didn’t have my passenger locator form, so I had to stay in Nice.

“But anyway, it’s no big deal. With the same papers I could take a plane to New York, which helped me visiting this city for the first time.”

The Monégasque driver is looking forward to the weekend ahead at the Circuit of the Americas.

 

“It’s a track I really, really enjoy driving, quite a challenging track, quite a bit of bumps,” Leclerc said.

“Looking at MotoGP, it is probably a bit more bumpy than two years ago, so let’s see how it goes. I really enjoy being here.”