Leclerc: Ferrari F1 Italian GP battle is how "racing should be all the time"

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc reckons his intense battle with Carlos Sainz in the dying laps of Formula 1’s 2023 Italian Grand Prix is “what racing should be all the time”.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

As Max Verstappen chalked a record-breaking 10th consecutive GP win at Monza while Sergio Perez completed a Red Bull 1-2, the Ferrari team-mates diced frenetically for the final podium position.

On lap 47 of 51, the pair began to trade blows as Leclerc gained DRS to attempt an overtake into Turn 1, but the Monegasque locked up to allow Sainz to recover the position.

This set the tone for their contest, with both drivers struggling to manage their Pirellis before Sainz eventually kept hold of third by a narrow 0.184 seconds to secure a Ferrari home podium.

Despite losing out at the flag, Leclerc said he relished a battle that was reminiscent of his days in karting and added that he thought racing ‘should be like this all of the time’.

He told Sky Sports: “I personally really enjoyed it. This is what racing should be all the time, in my opinion.

“This reminds me of the karting days where we were all on the limit, we could follow each other.

“With the DRS, we could actually stay very close to each other. With Carlos, it was really on the limit.”

Leclerc acknowledged both he and Sainz might have been “moving too much” but that there were no hard feelings - even though he suspected Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur might not have enjoyed watching on quite so much.

“It was close many, many times,” continued Leclerc. “There were so many moments where it was very tricky.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

“We were both moving a bit too much under braking but at the end, I don’t complain.

“This is what I love about racing, the adrenaline that you feel when you are fighting each other. This was really fun.

“It was on the limit from Carlos on the defending side; it was on the limit also my side on the attack side. It means so much to both of us to be on the podium here in Monza, so we gave it all.

“I’ve always said this is how I love racing. I loved today.

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“We will sit down with Fred - I’m sure he needs a bit of a rest for now because his heart rate was high in these last few laps!”

Vasseur joked that he did not want to watch any action replays so soon after the fact and said the drivers would be taken aside to discuss the moves. But he was proud that the team did not intervene.

“It’s a bit of a strange feeling but I’m a big fan of ‘let them race’,” said Vassuer. “I told them the notion of ‘no risk’, it’s always relative. But I really appreciated the last couple of laps.

“We’ll have the discussion after the race but tonight, tomorrow they are in the factory.

“I didn’t freeze the position. I don’t want to see [the replay] tonight!”

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