Sebastian Vettel or Carlos Sainz? Charles Leclerc opens up on his strongest team-mate

Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc spent two years together at Ferrari.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc notes that he learned a lot from former team-mate Sebastian Vettel, and the experience with him has shaped the driver is he today.

The Monegasque made his Formula 1 debut in 2018 with the Sauber team and, after some mightily impressive performances, he moved up to Ferrari to replace Kimi Raikkonen, who headed the other way.

Leclerc partnered Vettel in 2019, and finished ahead of the four-time world champion in the Drivers’ Standings as the pair won three races between them and scored 19 podiums between them.

A further three podiums were added to the tally in 2020 as Leclerc ended five places and 65 points ahead of the now 35-year-old, who departed for Aston Martin for 2021.

Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc with Ferrari at 2019 Russian Grand Prix.v1

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But Vettel had taught Leclerc a lot; observing details on the engineering side, managing the tyres, and working constructively with the engineers were all passed onto the 24-year-old by the former Red Bull driver, and the pair parted with fond memories of their time together.

Leclerc now partners Carlos Sainz at Maranello, and they have won four races between them this year, climbing onto the rostrum 16 times between them since the beginning of 2021.

As a competitor, Leclerc sees the Spaniard as one of his most challenging team-mates, but he retains his affection for his former team-mate at Ferrari.

“[Sainz is] among the strongest,” he told Corriere della Sera.

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“Seb had enormous experience, and if I became the driver I am, it is also thanks to what Seb taught me.”

As for whom, past or present, the Monegasque would love to race against, he chose Ayrton Senna, who won 41 races and three championships in his outstanding career.

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“Senna, my idol since childhood, but I don’t know which cars to race with, those of him or of my era?” explained Leclerc.

Ferrari’s title challenge on Red Bull has been slipping in recent rounds due to a mixture of driver errors, strategic mistakes and reliability failure.

Leclerc does not want to blame anyone or anything for the problems that have seen his team lose ground to the Austrian side.

“I don’t want to point the finger at a single thing, we have to grow, analyse the things that are wrong and overcome them,” he affirmed.

Leclerc is second in the championship after 13 rounds of the 2022 season, with Max Verstappen 80 points out in front.