Leclerc: Ferrari interests "priority" over Vettel battle
Charles Leclerc says he will not allow the battle between himself and Sebastian Vettel hurt the interests of their Ferrari team.
With the fight for wins between the pair having caused some tensions over the last three grands prix, there have been concerns that the rivalry risks boiling over into trouble on track.
Last week, F1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn reckoned that Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto faced a "potentially explosive" situation between his two drivers.
But in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com during the Russian Grand Prix weekend, Leclerc has said that while the fight between him and Vettel is intense, they both know that their battle cannot boil over.
"I want to beat Seb and Seb wants to beat me, but the interests of the team as a whole have priority,” Leclerc said before the Russian GP team orders controversy. “It always takes a compromise."
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Leclerc says he is fully aware when driving that he has a responsibility for every staff member who has helped create his car, so cannot justify doing anything that betrays them.
"When you find yourself battling with your team-mate you think about it, and you know that what you do depends on the result of the work of a thousand people,” he said.
“If I fight with Seb, it is an aspect that I keep in mind, and you cannot take risks.”
However, he is well aware of the importance that comes from beating your teammate – which is why he is so eager to end the year ahead of Vettel in the standings.
“Your teammate is the only one that has your own car, and always will,” he said. “My goal, and I think it is for every driver, is to stand in front of my partner.”
Leclerc and Vettel have come off the back of some big tests of their relationship, following a clash over their qualifying tactics in Italy, Vettel’s undercut in Singapore and then the controversy in Russia.
Reflecting on the events of Singapore, where Leclerc spoke out over the team radio about the situation being unfair, he said his actions were fuelled not by politics but by his passion for winning.
"I was wrong and I'm not afraid to admit it," he said. "In Singapore we were first and second, but with adrenaline I exaggerated a bit.
"In the morning when I get up, I think about winning. When I go to bed at night I think to win. And when I am in the car, I can only think about winning. With the adrenaline in Singapore I spoke when it was not necessary to do so. "
Leclerc believes that the major breakthrough that Ferrari made with its car after the summer break owed much to him and Vettel working together and being transparent with the sharing of car data.
"We were all surprised to see the great step forward that we made in recent races,” said Leclerc. “The team at Maranello has done an absolutely amazing job.
“At Monza we had the power unit [Spec 3] which confirmed a great job, and also the aerodynamic package brought to Singapore provided great results, even surpassing expectations.
“It is the result of the work done in the good environment that we have inside the team. With Seb, we share all the information, and this is an important element.”
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