Nico Rosberg has questioned effusive praise from Charles Leclerc about his battle with Carlos Sainz late in the Italian Grand Prix.
The two Ferrari drivers were engaged in a thrilling battle for the final podium place at Monza in the closing stages at Monza, coming close to contact on multiple occasions before Sainz narrowly beat Leclerc to third place at the chequered flag.
Sainz took the last place on the podium behind the Red Bull drivers in front of the Ferrari-filled grandstands on Sunday, and while Leclerc was full of praise for his battle with his team-mate, Rosberg wasn’t quite buying it.
What did Charles Leclerc say about his battle with Carlos Sainz?
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
Speaking to assembled media including PlanetF1.com after the race, Leclerc spoke of his enjoyment at being involved in such a thrilling battle with his team-mate at Ferrari’s home race.
“This is exactly what racing should be,” he stated. “In the past with Max I’ve had similar fights, with Checo [Perez] today it was on the limit too, and with Carlos was on the limit too, whether it was defending or attacking, and that made it really enjoyable inside the car.
“And at the end, we’ve maximised the team’s points, or the maximum result we could have done for the team. So it was really cool.
“I was on the limit, Carlos was on the limit, this is normal. I think it means to both of us a lot to be on the podium in front of the tifosi, so we gave it all.
“But we also know that how important it is for the tifosi to have one red car, whoever it is, on the podium. So we had that in mind, but we also really enjoyed it, both of us.”
“From FP1 to quali, that was the case I’ve been struggling more than Carlos and to be honest, Carlos has done a very impressive job this weekend. Then from quali onwards I was back up to pace, but that was a bit too late.
“I’m sure it was a relief for them [fans] also to see both of us finishing as the last laps were exciting.
“I’m not on the podium, but I’m sure Carlos lived a very special moment today, so he should enjoy it.”
Nico Rosberg unsure Charles Leclerc’s comments hold water
Having given similar comments to Sky Sports F1 after the chequered flag, 2016 World Champion Rosberg, on punditry duty with the channel, questioned how genuine those words were from the Monégasque driver.
He felt Leclerc did mean what he said, which in turn led him to question whether or not the Ferrari driver was being “too nice” about his team-mate.
“There’s something a bit strange,” he said on Sky F1. “I mean, ‘I had such a lovely fight and what a great day and I’m gonna have a beer with Carlos, we’re gonna have a laugh.’ I’m not sure about that.
“Because I mean, seriously, Carlos on one of those occasions was over the limit. He locked up on the inside, he went off the track and took Charles with him and, as team-mates, that’s the one where that’s a bit over the edge and so I’m not sure what’s going on there.
“I was looking and I was trying to figure out, is this genuine now? And yes, I think it was genuine, you know, so I’m struggling. Is he too nice or what’s going on?”