Charles Leclerc has said rumours of a feud with Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz have been “blown out of proportion”, insisting the two still have a “great relationship”.
The Ferrari duo are now in their third season together as team-mates, having both come out on top in the Drivers’ Championship one time apiece.
With the pair of them both seeing their contracts end next year and minor quips having been made about the other over team radio at times this season, this has led to rumours of trouble between them, but Leclerc was quick to play this down.
Charles Leclerc pours cold water on rumours of feud with Carlos Sainz
There have been moments of tension on the Ferrari pit wall this season as Sainz has asked on multiple occasions about being let past his team-mate and been denied, notably in Austria and again in Belgium, at times when the Spaniard appeared to have more pace.
Leclerc, meanwhile, was left frustrated early in the season in Australia when he was not offered a tow in qualifying by Sainz as prescribed by the team.
Moments like this have given rise to theories that the two Ferrari team-mates are not quite as pally as they make out to be, but having seen what is swirling around, Leclerc wanted to put those rumours to bed.
“I am quite active on social media, so I see what’s been said all around,” Leclerc told Motorsport.com.
“It’s blown out of proportion, I think, with Carlos. We have a great relationship.
“Outside the car, we know how to work together, and we get on really well together because we share lots of interests.
“At the same time, there’s a lot of competitiveness in between us two. But we are in Formula 1, and I love the sport because there’s competitiveness. I think it’s great to have that.”
There was a pointed exchange over team radio at the British Grand Prix when Sainz overtook Leclerc on track in qualifying despite Leclerc having priority, leading to the Monégasque driver saying: “Nice Carlos, nice, good overtake in the last corner.”
With Sainz having backed off before a lap and taken matters into his own hands, his response was: “It’s a bit unfair what you’re asking me to do there, sacrifice my tyre temperature. But anyway, whatever. Also, I am P4, he is P3, I am more at risk.”
But despite these moments, Leclerc insists that these are normal and the “spotlight” of driving for Ferrari only adds to the scrutiny that comes with being in his position.
“Sometimes there’s a bit of discussion over the radio on some situations,” Leclerc said.
“But it is just because we are competitive, and we both want to do the absolute best result possible. These are things that are normal.
“I think it also comes with being a Ferrari driver and being under the spotlight, probably more often than others. But that’s fine.
“In the end, within the team, we know that we have a good relationship and we are working towards the same goals.”