Whether it was Alain Prost against Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher against Mika Häkkinen, or Lewis Hamilton against Nico Rosberg, Formula 1 has repeatedly thrilled an audience of millions with gripping rivalries over the past decades.
Only last year, the F1 title fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton developed into an absolute thriller that sometimes went beyond the limits of what was acceptable. This year could see a new duel between two superstars who have known each other since childhood.
Thanks to the resurgent Scuderia Ferrari, Charles Leclerc is also involved in the fight for the Formula 1 world championship as a serious title contender for the first time this year. The Monegasque has won two of the first three races and has already built up a comfortable 46-point cushion over reigning champion Max Verstappen.
“Often it didn’t end on the best of terms”
Leclerc himself believes that there could be a hot battle with his Dutch adversary this season: “I expect it to be very close [this year, editor’s note]. It has always been close between us, especially in the junior classes and karting,” the Monegasque is quoted as saying by “f1reader.com”.
In fact, Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen were already dueling on the kart track in their early teens. Here, too, things were already passionate, with the two of them banging on the track on several occasions.
“At that time we hated each other. One of us was always at the front and often it didn’t end on the best of terms. But yes, they were good times,” Leclerc said with a laugh.
A now legendary incident between the two rivals occurred back in 2012, when the two young drivers clashed once again at the age of 14. Leclerc shot Verstappen off the track – and that after the race was actually already over.
A memory that both the Ferrari star and the Red Bull champion can now smile about, as Leclerc and Verstappen have already had some heated duels in the top class of motorsport in recent years.
The respect for his opponent Verstappen has never been lost, emphasised World Championship leader Leclerc once again: “Who is better in which area and who is worse, I don’t know. I think we just have two very different driving styles. Sometimes one wins, sometimes the other,” elaborated Leclerc, who noted, “But it’s fun. I like it.”