Charles Leclerc’s ‘unfair’ Max Verstappen admission after Lewis Hamilton observation

Thomas Maher
Charles Leclerc races his Ferrari in the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc believes it would be 'unfair' to label Max Verstappen's life as 'easy' with the Red Bull RB19.

Charles Leclerc believes it would be ‘unfair’ to say Max Verstappen had an easy life with the Red Bull RB19, and admitted he couldn’t spot where the car was superior to his own.

Verstappen romped to the title in 2023, scoring 19 wins from 22 races and only failing to finish on the podium on one occasion as Singapore remained an outlier for Red Bull’s performance for the second consecutive year.

Charles Leclerc, on the other hand, had a more torrid year filled with inconsistent speed from his Ferrari, as well as reliability issues – all of which culminated in the Monegasque driver finishing without a win.

Charles Leclerc: Max Verstappen put in a lot of work to get where he is

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, Leclerc spoke about Verstappen’s fortunes, but believes it would be very “unfair” to say that the Dutch driver has had an easy life with the Red Bull RB19.

“That would be very unfair,” he said.

“Of course, he’s in a comfortable position today, but to get there he had to put in a lot of work. And they’ve simply done a good job to get to where they are now.

“I respect that. Now we have to do an equally good job to catch up with them.”

But, having spent a lot of time getting a good look at the rear of the Red Bull in futile attempts to keep up, Leclerc said he wasn’t able to identify where the RB19 was superior to his own car – even if Lewis Hamilton appeared to have identified the differences.

“I spoke to Lewis [Hamilton] after Mexico, where he told me that he can see exactly where Max’s car is better,” he said.

“Maybe that’s true for him, but I have to tell you that I can’t possibly see the details. We’re talking about differences of millimetres in ground clearance or suspension travel.

“You can, of course, see whether a car has softer or harder suspension and at which points it gains time on you. I prefer to look at the footage from the on-board cameras. You can tell from the driver’s helmet what the car does and doesn’t do on the track.”

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With Ferrari scoring a solitary win, courtesy of Carlos Sainz capitalising on Red Bull’s off-colour weekend in Singapore, Leclerc said it had been painful for him having to watch his teammate take the moment of glory.

“It hurts – especially in a season like this, where there was only one chance,” he said.

“Of all things, I didn’t get the qualifying right, which ultimately cost me the race. But it was absolutely important for the team. Because we did everything right as a team.”

Having started on the soft tyre and then playing the team game to give Sainz the best possible chance, Leclerc explained how he had no qualms about helping his teammate out when the circumstances called for it.

“The soft tyres were my idea,” he said.

“Not to help Carlos, but because it was the best thing for our race. At times like this, you have to accept that the team comes first. They would do the same for me if I were in front.

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