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F1 | Leclerc on racing with Verstappen: “We've grown over the years and there's a lot of respect”

After another exciting race in Austria between Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen, the Ferrari driver admits that his on-track fights with the Red Bull driver are less aggressive because they have both grown over the years.

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F1 | Leclerc on racing with Verstappen: “We've grown over the years and there's a lot of respect”
Fuente imagen: twitter.com/redbullracing

At the midway point of the F1 season, Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen have raced each other hard but respectfully. And this season the drivers' championship battle with Verstappen and Leclerc looks different than the epic fight from 2021 that ended in controversy on the last lap in Abu Dhabi between the Red Bull driver and Lewis Hamilton.  

Last year Verstappen and Hamilton engaged in aggressive wheel-to-wheel action on circuit throughout the season. That produced exciting racing but also created some friction between the two of them on track as the season progressed.

The current fight between the
Red Bull driver and Ferrari’s Leclerc has provided fans with equally thrilling wheel-to-wheel moments. However, both have been racing each other since karting - something that was missing in the previous championship battle with Verstappen and Hamilton.   

So, what has changed? Why does the championship battle this season between Leclerc and Verstappen lack the conflicts that were there when Verstappen and Hamilton competed against each other for the 2021 title?  

In Miami, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told MotorLAT that he attributed the difference to a mutual "respect" that both drivers have for each other.

When asked directly if the current battle between Verstappen and Leclerc is different than the one with Verstappen and Hamilton in 2021, Horner answered “Yes” without any hesitation.  

Yes. I think there’s a great respect between the two of them, they’ve been racing for many years and I think they’ve enjoy racing each other,“ he said.  

The 2022 season opened with a thrilling race in Bahrain with Leclerc and Verstappen pushing their cars to the limits as they overtook each other multiple times for the lead. Both drivers, however, gave each other enough space on track without making contact despite their action-packed wheel-to-wheel battles throughout the race. 

During the Austrian Grand Prix, the championship contenders dueled again delivering another exciting and incident-free race with each other.    

After the race speaking to MotorLAT, the Ferrari driver echoed Horner’s remarks from the Miami GP and described the battles with Verstappen as “exciting” with a lot of respect.  

“I mean, honestly, on the battle of Max and Lewis I've got nothing to say. I mean, I wasn't in that battle. Unfortunately for me, I was fighting for less interesting positions last year.” 

“But yeah, with the fight with Max, obviously, I love it. I mean, we know each other since a very long time, it's always racing on the limit.  

“You can argue that this year is a bit less aggressive than normal with the fights in between us but we've grown also throughout the years. We know each others weaknesses so yeah, as you said, we know each other very well and that's what makes it exciting, but there's a lot of respect.” 

Verstappen now leads the championship by 38 points over Leclerc and with 11 races left in the season, there is still ample opportunity for even more exhilarating on-track battles between the two F1 drivers.

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