Charles Leclerc really enjoyed his fight with Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz at the 2023 Italian Grand Prix – even though the Monegasque driver came off second best at the line.
Max Verstappen cruised to a record-breaking 10th straight victory on Sunday, with Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez crossing the line second.
This left the two Ferrari drivers to battle it out for best of the rest, and they certainly didn’t hold back as they looked to claim the final podium spot in front of the adoring Tifosi.
The two gave it their all and there were a few hairy moments, with Sainz eventually coming out on top. Although Leclerc had to settle for fourth, he says Sunday’s race was probably his most enjoyable of the 2023 campaign.
“I honestly really enjoyed it,” Leclerc told reporters, including Total-Motorsport, after the race.
“It’s probably the most enjoyable race of the season. I am sure that from 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.
“This is exactly what racing should be. In the past with Max I’ve had similar fights, with Checo today it was on the limit too, and with Carlos it was on the limit to whether it was defending or attacking.
“That made it really enjoyable inside the car and at the end and we got the maximum result we could have done for the team so it was really good.
“I think it meant a lot to us both to be on the podium in front of the Tifosi, so we gave it our all, but we know how important it is for the Tifosi to have one red car, whoever it is, on the podium so we had that in mind.”
Any chance of keeping Red Bull at bay?
Sainz started Sunday’s race on pole, while Leclerc started third. In the end the two Ferraris could do little to keep Red Bull at bay, which came as no surprise to Leclerc.
“Honestly it was very difficult because they were so incredibly competitive in the last corner,” said Leclerc. “I don’t know what their car is doing there, but whether it was with Carlos or myself, Checo was behind us and he was catching us there, and then it was easy for them to overtake.
“So I don’t think it was possible [to keep them behind].
“The streak will end at some point, but at the moment we don’t have the race car to do so.”