I’ve learned so much from Vettel in ‘dream’ debut season – Leclerc
Driving for the Scuderia is a dream for so many, but it came true for Charles Leclerc as he completed his first season with Ferrari – and he set some time aside to praise team mate Sebastian Vettel’s presence and support that helped him to achieve 10 podiums, seven poles and two victories this season.
“I’m extremely [happy] about this year. I’ve learned a huge amount thanks to Seb,” said Leclerc, looking back at his second season in F1 having joined Ferrari from Alfa Romeo Sauber for 2019.
“Yeah, it’s been a great year. For me a realisation of a dream since childhood. I’ve always dreamed to be in Formula 1 but especially with Ferrari. To be now with this team is unbelievable and now it’s up to me to work, to get better, and hopefully give them the success they deserve.”
Wins eluded him and Ferrari until the Belgian Grand Prix – 13 rounds in – after mechanical failure in Bahrain and a late loss to Max Verstappen in Austria. But the wait was worth it as he delivered not only at Spa but in Italy in front of Ferrari’s jubilant fans for an ‘unbelievable’ debut season.
“At the beginning of the season if you had told me I would have had seven poles and 10 podiums, I wouldn’t have believed it," added Leclerc, who beat Vettel by 24 points and one place in the drivers' championship. "It’s definitely better than what I expected, but looking back there were quite a lot of mistakes, so the target is to understand them.
“But yes, I am satisfied about this first season and it has not been an easy season. In the first part we were struggling but I think we have worked well and improved in the second half of the season. I had two incredible wins and Monza was all of my dreams – to be on top of that podium with hundreds and thousands of Ferrari fans below, these experiences: I will never forget them.
“Then again, I still have a lot of work to do to get better as a driver and I will put my head down and get better.”
It’s not just him, but Ferrari who will be spending the winter break readying for an assault on the 2020 championship – with Leclerc relishing the ‘interesting challenge’ of helping develop the new car, which will be unveiled on February 11.