Verstappen and Leclerc reflect on ‘amazing’ journey from karting rivals to sharing success in F1
As the 2023 season drew to a close, Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc took a moment to reflect on how far they have come in motorsport – from their days battling it out on kart tracks to sharing podiums as F1 drivers.
Verstappen and Leclerc were fierce competitors on the karting scene, with footage of a heated exchange between the pair following an incident taking off across social media when they both reached the F1 grid and rekindled their rivalry.
While Verstappen has enjoyed more F1 success so far, racking up more than 50 victories and three drivers’ world titles with Red Bull, Leclerc has also taken pole positions, podium finishes and race wins for Ferrari.
After being pipped to pole by Leclerc for the penultimate round of last season in Las Vegas, Verstappen said: “I always thought that, if I would make it to F1, Charles will also make it. You can see already from, I think, a young age, the really strong drivers, what they were back then, they are also in F1 now.
“It’s never been a surprise to me that Charles is sitting here and, of course, after that you need a little bit of luck to be in the right team here and there to get on the front row, but it’s not a surprise that we are sitting here together, I think.”
Offering his view, Leclerc added: “No, same. But at the same time, obviously when you are young, and you are in karting, F1 feels so far away that, for me it was obviously not a given that I will finish in F1 one day.
“I think we knew that we were very fast because we were already competitive in karting and whenever we change categories, we will always be competitive – but it’s still such a long way off F1 that you don’t really imagine yourself in F1 yet.
“But it’s amazing. I mean I have really, really good memories. Other memories that are less good but became really good with time! You get older and you look back on moments that maybe you didn’t enjoy at the time that are very funny. It was good times.”
Verstappen will head into the 2024 campaign looking to make it three world titles on the bounce, and four overall, while Leclerc continues his quest to get an F1 championship on the board – having last been in contention in early 2022.