Charles Leclerc said his hard-fought battle with Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr in the Italian Grand Prix was “exactly what racing should be”.
Despite coming close to contact with his team mate multiple times during their scrap, Leclerc said he had only positive things to say about his fight with his team mate.
“I honestly really enjoyed it,” Leclerc told media including RaceFans after the race.
“It’s probably the most enjoyable race of the season – inside the helmet, at least. I am sure that for the pit wall, they wouldn’t give the same answer and I’m sure some of the Tifosi maybe didn’t enjoy as much as we did with Carlos. But this is exactly what racing should be.
“In the past with Max [Verstappen], I’ve had similar fights. With Checo [Perez], today was on the limit too. And with Carlos it was on the limit too, whether it was defending or attacking and that made it really enjoyable inside the car.
“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.”
Despite being told by race engineer Xavier Marcos Padros to take “no risks” during the battle in the closing laps, Leclerc locked up and ran off the track at points while aggressively seeking a way by Sainz right up to the chequered flag. Leclerc admitted neither he nor Sainz fully heeded the warning to take no risks.
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“We both did [take risks],” Sainz said. “Carlos was on the limits of the regulation on braking and I was on the limit of regulation attacking. So we both did, but at the end it all ended well. So it’s all fine.”
Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur said he told the pair they were allowed to race each other but not to take any unnecessary risks.
“On this I want to have the last call and I told them ‘no risks, you can race, but no risks’. Again, it’s relative, but I was much more compatible with this situation than to freeze something.”
Vasseur declined to say whether he felt Leclerc’s last-lap attempt to pass Sainz, in which he locked up and ran wide, was too great a risk.
“I won’t make any comment and I don’t want to have a polemic on this,” he said. “Because if I froze the situation I would have exactly the same question: ‘Why did you freeze, it’s not the spirit of the race?’ and so on.
“You can always say ‘but it was a bit too much’ or not but at the end the drivers finished and I’m more than happy with the outcome of this.”
Ferrari achieved their strongest result since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April by taking third and fourth behind the two Red Bulls. “We’ve had quite good pace all weekend here,” said Leclerc.
“The low-downforce package seems to be working more than the high-downforce package for us. So it was nice.”
However, Leclerc is not confident that Ferrari will be able to emulate their showing at the next round in Singapore.
“I think Singapore will be tricky for us,” he admitted.
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