Ferrari's Leclerc: Vettel's F1 race pace is "stronger" than mine

Charles Leclerc admits his Ferrari Formula 1 team-mate Sebastian Vettel's race pace is "stronger" than his and that he must focus on improving it in 2020

Ferrari's Leclerc: Vettel's F1 race pace is "stronger" than mine

Leclerc finished fourth in the drivers' championship during his first season as a Ferrari driver, winning the Italian and Belgian grands prix compared to Vettel's solo victory in the Singapore Grand Prix.

He also as scored seven pole positions, the most of any F1 driver in 2019, during his sophomore season.

Leclerc had targeted qualifying improvements early in 2019 and then took five of his seven poles after the summer break, outscoring Vettel's total of two poles.

Leclerc exclusively told Autosport in the latest podcast episode: "After the first three, four races, I saw that my weaknesses were more in qualifying than the races.

"So I focused quite a lot on the qualifying, and I did quite a big step from France onwards in qualifying, which was good to see.

"And then in the race, I think I've still got quite a bit of work to do.

"Seb has a big experience in the races and he's stronger than me at the moment.

"So my work this winter is mostly on the races, to try and improve that."

Leclerc added that both he and Ferrari needed to reduce their mistakes in 2020 following a season in which it converted nine poles into three wins, whereas rivals Mercedes converted 10 poles into 15 wins.

"I hope, or at least I'm working extremely hard, to do fewer mistakes than I've done in 2019," he said about the prospects for the year ahead.

"I think as a team, we also need to focus on that.

"In terms of performance, it is always very, very difficult to know before the first race.

"Actually I was going to say winter testing, but actually in 2019 winter testing went a lot better than the first race.

"So we will wait for the first race.

"But we've been working well, and then to see the performance, we'll see a bit later on.

"But I feel definitely more ready than at the beginning of 2019. And I hope I'll be able to prove it on track."

Tension built between Leclerc and Vettel during 2019, with the pair clashing in Brazil, while a team orders row over Vettel not giving Leclerc a place back in Russia also caused friction.

But while Leclerc accepts there are times when the pair do not see eye-to-eye, he says their relationship off track is better than it appears.

"I think we are mature enough to understand that whatever happens on track, obviously we are two competitors," he added.

"We both want to win and it would be wrong if it will be the other way around. So yeah, we want to win.

"We are extremely competitive and sometimes on track, we might have some frictions, but at the end, we are mature enough to know that what's happened on track is on-track, and off-track, we are different persons.

"I think the most important [thing] is that we work well together, especially off-track to try and develop the car in the best way possible.

"And, of course, not exceed the limits whenever we are on track, like we've seen in Brazil.

"But I think it was a good lesson for both of us and it won't happen again."

shares
comments
McLaren 2020 F1 car launch date set after 'accidental' Norris reveal
Previous article

McLaren 2020 F1 car launch date set after 'accidental' Norris reveal

Next article

F1 risks being slower than F2 with 2021 rules, says Racing Point

F1 risks being slower than F2 with 2021 rules, says Racing Point
Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie? Plus

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie?

The Australian rising star is fast, consistent, confident, adaptable and has shown excellent racecraft, but there’s already a taint to his reputation. That hasn’t stopped him becoming the hottest property in this year’s F1 driver market and why McLaren moved fast to snap up the 21-year-old

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver Plus

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver

Formula 1's incoming engine rules shake-up has multiple targets. But it may also solve what has been a bone of contention since the hybrids arrived in 2014. The new plan will allow the series to pump up the volume

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance Plus

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance

Nyck de Vries appeared to have missed his opportunity to break into Formula 1 as he was passed over for more exciting talents who have now become frontrunners and title fighters. But after catching the eye outside of the F1 sphere, before his stunning impromptu grand prix debut in Italy, will it lead to a delayed full-time race seat?

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment? Plus

Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment?

The Singapore Grand Prix has, explains BEN EDWARDS, played an important role in Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 career. As the series returns to the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the first time in three years, he faces the latest challenge with an underperforming Mercedes car

Formula 1
Sep 28, 2022
Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals Plus

Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals

Although Ferrari's chances of title glory in 2022 have evaporated, chairman John Elkann expects the team to have chalked up both championships by 2026. Both require drivers to play the team game and, having now become more comfortable with the F1-75, Carlos Sainz may be Ferrari's key to title glory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2022
How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes Plus

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes

With Formula 1’s future engine regulations now agreed, MARK GALLAGHER wonders if they will provide a more competitive field than past attempts actually managed

Formula 1
Sep 26, 2022
How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era Plus

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

STUART CODLING charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2022
The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared Plus

The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared

Recent moves within the driver market have reminded MAURICE HAMILTON of a time when contracts weren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on…

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2022