Sebastian Vettel said he could see a lot of his former self in Charles Leclerc when the two were team-mates at Ferrari and said the Monégasque had “something special.”
The pair were team-mates for two seasons from 2019 after Leclerc made the move up from Sauber and while Vettel’s relationship with Ferrari deteriorated as the years went on, his relationship with his team-mate never seemed to suffer the same fate.
In their first season together, they secured P2 in the 2019 Constructors’ Championship, a feat that was only matched in 2022, but the promise of Leclerc soon made for an uncomfortable choice for the Ferrari higher-ups as to who was the number one driver.
With the 2020 car proving to be a poor successor to the one that had come before, the negative mood around the team only seemed to increase as both drivers jostled for supremacy.
Despite this, they remained good friends and indeed it seemed as if Vettel was the perfect role model for Leclerc to learn from given the German’s success at a young age. Speaking years later, Vettel admitted he saw a lot of himself in Leclerc when they were working together even if both of their competitive natures started to shine through.
“Charles came in at just a very different time in his career and his life,” Vettel said on the Beyond the Grid podcast.
“It was funny, because I watched him and we got along really well. I think I really enjoyed the time we spent together. But it was a little bit as if I was looking at my younger self and it did take a little bit of time to understand that.
“Because obviously, my target was not to just win a race, I’ve done that. My target was to win the Championship and ideally win the Championship the way I wanted to win the Championship, which is winning many, many races. So maybe I lost myself a little bit in that process.”
The German’s move to Aston Martin made life easier for both Vettel and Leclerc as they no longer had to fight for the role of number one driver within the same team. Since parting ways, Vettel has continued to praise his old team-mate and said that he has “something special.”
“I think Charles has been something special,” Vettel said when asked who was the fastest driver he has raced in his career. “Just the amount of talent and how he manages in just one lap, particularly in qualifying, to squeeze pace out of himself, the car was nice to see.”
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