Vettel tips Leclerc as 'something special'


Sebastian Vettel has hinted that his former Ferrari team mate Charles Leclerc is 'something special' and added that he can see a lot of his younger self in the 25-year-old Monegasque.

The pair were partners at Maranello in 2019 and 2020, before Ferrari decided to let the four-time champion go at the end of the season in favour of Carlos Sainz.

Vettel ended up going to Aston Martin, but decided to call time on his Formula 1 career at the end of 2022 with four world championships and 299 Grand Prix starts under his belt since his maiden outing in the US in 2007.

Leclerc is yet to win the title but already has five wins to his name since his arrival at Ferrari.

At the time there was much speculation about friction between Vettel and Leclerc, but this was denied - and since Vettel left the team the pair have certainly become good friends.

“Charles came in at just a very different time in his career and his life,” Vettel told the latest Beyond the Grid podcast from the Formula 1 website hosted by Tom Clarkson. “It was funny, because I watched him and we got along really well.

"I think I really enjoyed the time we spent together, but it was a little bit as if I was looking at my younger self and it did take a little bit of time to understand that.

"[At the time] my target was not to just win a race," Vettel explained. "I’d done that. My target was to win the championship, and ideally win the championship the way I wanted to win the championship - winning many, many races.

"Maybe I lost myself a little bit in that process," he admitted. With the clearer perspective of hindsight, Vettel cited Leclerc as one of the fastest drivers he had ever raced against in his career.

“I think Charles has been something special," he said. “Just the amount of talent and how he manages in just one lap, particularly in qualifying, to squeeze pace out of himself, the car was nice to see.”

Vettel is yet to reveal what he will do now that he has stepped away from full-time F1 competition. But new reports have suggested that it might be a case of back to the future for the 35-year-old with a return to Red Bull in a new role.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari with Dr Helmut Marko (AUT) Red Bull Motorsport Consultant. 24.03.2017. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Practice

The team's motorsport consultant Dr Helmut Marko, widely credited for discovering Vettel as a talented youngster and overseeing his rise to F1, told the German language Sky Sports F1 channel, is open to working with Vettel again.

Marko said that he and Vettel have already had conversations about a "top management" role at the team or its sister squad AlphaTauri.

However Marko added that the team will "let him plant a few trees" first, suggesting that Vettel wants to engage in more environmental activism before getting back to the world of motorsport.

Red Bull already have a data centre at Milton Keynes named after Vettel, which may need to be changed is the driver returns to his old stomping ground in future.

Another former team mate of Vettel's, Daniel Ricciardo, is already back in the neighbourhood after accepting a role as third driver to Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez following the early termination of his contract with McLaren.

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