Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc says that he and Sebastian Vettel won’t collide on-track again, after clearing the air at the end of the 2019 season.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were one of the most evenly-matched driver pairings on the grid during the 2019 campaign, leading to some tense moments as the pair shared the same piece of tarmac while fighting each other.
There were some notable contentious incidents, including the Russian Grand Prix where Vettel appeared to ignore a pre-race agreement to cede position to Leclerc – something that became moot when Ferrari used the pit strategy to ensure Vettel came out behind Leclerc. The Brazilian Grand Prix shortly afterwards saw the pair collide, albeit with a very minor touch, that resulted in both retiring from puncture damage immediately.
Speaking to Autosport over the Autosport International weekend in which the Monegasque driver was one of the stars of the show, Leclerc said he doesn’t think the same type of friction will rear its head up in 2020.
“We are extremely competitive and sometimes on track we might have some frictions. “said Leclerc. “But in the end we are mature enough to know that what happened on track is on track and off it we are different.”
“The important thing is we work together well off track to develop the car in the best way possible and of course not exceed the limits when we are on track like we have seen in Brazil. I think it was a good lesson for both of us and it won’t happen again.”
Team boss Mattia Binotto has been at pains to stress that Leclerc and Vettel actually get on quite well off-track, and Leclerc seemed to confirm this is really the case. He says there has been points where they just haven’t ‘understood’ each other: “But it is never really good to speak about it straight away after an incident. So we left some time and then after Russia we sat down again in Japan and we understood each other and we have grown from this experience.”
Leclerc goes into 2020 with his long-term future secure, having signed a five year deal with Ferrari just before Christmas. He’ll stay with the Scuderia until, at least, the end of 2024, while Sebastian Vettel will be fighting to stay on with Ferrari past 2020 as his contract ends this year.
Leclerc is aiming to step things up a gear this season, having made several high-profile mistakes over the course of his debut year with Ferrari: “I am working extremely hard to do less mistakes than in 2019,” Leclerc said. “As a team we also need to focus on that.”
“We have been working well and I feel definitely more ready than in 2019. I hope I will be able to prove it on track.”
Ferrari have already confirmed the launch date of their 2020 challenger, with the new car due to be unveiled on February 11th.