Charles Leclerc admits losing to Carlos Sainz in last year’s Drivers’ Championship “hurt” as a driver always wants to beat his team-mate.
Sainz joined Ferrari last season with many predicting that he would find it tough given that Leclerc had emerged as Ferrari’s man for the future.
Signing a long-term deal with the Scuderia, Sainz – it was feared – would be the support act to Leclerc’s starring role.
That was not the case with the Spaniard the first Ferrari driver to reach the podium, P2 at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Sainz would go onto add two more podiums to his tally while Leclerc managed just one top-three showing, runner-up at the British Grand Prix.
After 22 races the team-mates were split by 5.5 points, but it was points that were in Sainz’s favour.
“Of course, it hurts,” admitted Leclerc. “It hurts for every driver
“As soon as you finish behind your team-mate, whether it is in the championship or in one race, it always hurts. You always want to beat your team-mate.
“At the same time, whether I am satisfied with last year’s season, yes I am.
“There are some opportunities that I lost, sometimes by not being lucky, some others because of myself just wanting too much and I am learning from it.
“One of the big strengths of Carlos is just being there all the time and every race he is always there.
“Myself, sometimes I can be a bit too optimistic and this happened last year a few times and it cost me some points.
“So in the end, I paid the price, I learned the lesson and it hurts but I move forward. It is the past.
“As I said, it hurt at the moment but when I look back across the season, I am satisfied with myself.”
This season the stakes are set to be higher than podiums for Ferrari with pundits predicting the Scuderia could be in the fight for the World title.
That brings with it problems of its own with both Leclerc and Sainz wanting a first Drivers’ Championship title.
It begs the question whether the cohesion seen last year will continue, or if it doesn’t will Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto step in and issue team orders.
“Of course, we have discussed it,” Leclerc said. “We are free to fight.
“Obviously, without taking any stupid risks because we are fighting for the time and the ultimate goal is to bring Ferrari to the top but we will be free to fight.”
Leclerc hurt by loss to Sainz
Sainz beat the Monegasque driver in his first season last year, something which Leclerc said "hurt".