(GMM) Charles Leclerc has hailed the civility of his world championship battle with Max Verstappen this year.
Last year, Dutchman Verstappen was locked in one of the most intense title battles in F1 history.
And given their personal history as boys in karting, many expected that a Verstappen-Leclerc head-to-head could get just as ugly.
“Max and I didn’t know at the time that we were going to get into F1,” Ferrari driver Leclerc told DAZN. “In karting, my biggest rival was probably Max.
“We were less mature, much younger, we took things more personally than we do now.
“Of course when you’re in the car, you never leave room for them to pass you or whatever. We do our best to keep each other behind.
“But we also know that drivers on the track are different people off the track. I think it’s fantastic that we both understand that,” Leclerc added.
Verstappen is now poised to secure his second consecutive drivers’ world title ahead of Leclerc – but the Monaco-born Ferrari driver is not giving up yet.
“In the end, nothing is impossible and I will fight until the end,” he said.
Former F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa thinks 24-year-old Leclerc will have other opportunities to become world champion for Ferrari.
“He’s maturing. He hasn’t reached his peak yet,” said the Spaniard.
“His great strength is that we don’t know how far he can go. Ferrari has wasted the match points it had, but does Leclerc have the quality to be world champion? Yes.
“Does he have the ability to be world champion several times? Also yes.”