Leclerc insists 'there was always respect' between him and departing team mate Vettel

AUSTIN, TEXAS - OCTOBER 31: Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel of Germany

Charles Leclerc has paid tribute to outgoing Ferrari team mate Sebastian Vettel, saying it had been “a huge honour” to be the four-time world champion’s team mate.

Vettel announced he’d be leaving Ferrari at the end of 2020 on Tuesday morning, with Leclerc – who has been paired alongside the German since joining Ferrari from Alfa Romeo for the start of the 2019 season – quick to react on social media.

“It’s been a huge [honour] for me to be your team mate,” wrote Leclerc on Instagram. “We've had some tense moments on tracks. Some very good ones and some others that didn't end as we both wanted, but there was always respect, even though it wasn't perceive this way from the outside. [sic]

READ MORE: Sebastian Vettel to leave Ferrari at the end of 2020 F1 season, team confirm


Leclerc's tribute to Vettel on Instagram

Those ‘tense moments’ Leclerc refers to came to a head in Brazil last year, as the duo collided spectacularly. The double DNF helped Red Bull’s Max Verstappen sneak into third place in the drivers’ standings, with Leclerc ultimately beating his experienced team mate to fourth.

Leclerc also outscored Vettel two wins to one over the course of 2019, though he’s been quick to say that he had work to do to match the German’s strong race pace in 2020 and that he’d have been happy if Vettel remained his team mate in 2021.

“I've never learnt so much as I did with you as my team mate,” concluded Leclerc’s post. “Thank you for everything Seb.”

Leclerc and Vettel will hopefully enjoy many more races together in 2020. Who Leclerc races alongside next remains to be seen….

READ MORE: Already a hero – How Charles Leclerc won the hearts of the tifosi in a single season

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