Charles Leclerc says his on-track battles with Max Verstappen this season seem less aggressive than in the past, but puts it down to the two drivers maturing together and learning how to race each other.
Verstappen leads the drivers’ championship by 38 points from Leclerc, but the pair have raced closely on a number of occasions this year with Leclerc passing the championship leader three times on his way to victory in Austria. While Verstappen says he judges how hard to fight rivals based on the race situation, Leclerc says the battles appear to be a little more controlled than in the past.
“The fight with Max, I love it,” Leclerc said. “We’ve known each other for a very long time — it’s always racing on the limit. You can argue that this year is a little bit less aggressive than normal with the fights between us but we’ve grown throughout the years, we know each others’ weaknesses so we know each other very well and that’s what makes it exciting. But there is a lot of respect.”
Leclerc says Ferrari’s gains during this season should not be underestimated after finally taking his first victory since April, stating the car’s development has been a particularly positive aspect of the year so far even if the results haven’t always followed.
“Quite a bit (of change since the last win) — we got a package in Barcelona, then we had another upgrade in Silverstone. And it always went in the right way. I think the performance has been great since Australia.
“But apart from Miami, maybe, where we were a little bit down compared to Red Bull, it’s been strong in the last five races, but we just couldn’t put everything together. So yeah, it’s great that we are now finally having a normal race on my side.
“I think Barcelona was one of those races where we were very strong, Monaco we were very strong, but since those races it is has been the first time where we were actually quite a bit quicker. It is not a surprise because we have been working very hard.”