Charles Leclerc has described working with Sebastian Vettel as a “huge honour” following the news of the four-time World Champion’s confirmed exit.
Vettel is leaving the Scuderia at the end of the 2020 season after both parties came to a joint decision to go their separate ways.
Leclerc’s first season with Ferrari and Vettel, meanwhile, was a tense one. Vettel was given number one priority at Ferrari ahead of the 2019 season, but Leclerc’s pace and performances soon blurred those clearly defined lines.
It led to a few on-track squabbles between team and drivers during races, most notably in Russia where there was an argument over strategy and in Brazil where the duo both suffered DNFs after colliding with each other.
Leclerc was also forgiven by Mattia Binotto after winning the Italian Grand Prix. Prior to that, Leclerc had not played the team game in giving a tow back to Vettel.
But, despite their ups and downs, Leclerc said there has always been respect between the pair and he has never learned so much from a team-mate than what he has done with Vettel.
“It’s been a huge honour for me to be your team mate,” Leclerc wrote on social media as news of Vettel’s departure was confirmed.
“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.
“I’ve never learnt so much as I did with you as my team-mate. Thank you for everything Seb.”
Long-time Ferrari test driver, Marc Gene, also paid tribute to the departing Vettel.
“It has been such a pleasure and honour working with you Seb,” Gene wrote.
“Over the last 5 years and 14 GP wins you have always proved to be a great champion . I look forward to enjoying every moment with you this season.