SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 17: Charles Leclerc of Monaco and Ferrari prepares to drive on the grid before the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 17, 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
F1: Leclerc opens up about rivalry with Vettel
02:50 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Charles Leclerc has had a whirlwind 12-months since joining Ferrari at the start of the season.

The 22-year-old may have enjoyed seven pole positions and two race wins but things haven’t always been straightforward for one of the sport’s most exciting prospects.

Leclerc has locked horns with teammate Sebastian Vettel on more than one occasion, a tension that has contributed to a difficult season for Ferrari.

Most recently the pair collided at the Brazilian GP, making contact which ruled both drivers out of the race.

“I have always been like this, I think Seb [Vettel] has always been like this,” Leclerc told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies, ahead of the season’s final race in Abu Dhabi.

“Whenever we have our racing helmets on, we are not friends. I haven’t got any friends on the track when I have my helmet on but whenever I take it off, I am a normal person at the end.”

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Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc shared an awkward moment at the Singapore GP.

‘We need to work together’

After promising preparation to the season, Ferrari quickly found itself managing a tricky relationship between both of its drivers.

Leclerc served as a serious threat to Vettel’s position at Ferrari and the four-time world champion never seemed comfortable with the internal politics.

A number of flashpoints followed, with Leclerc angering Vettel at the Italian GP when the youngster failed to stick to the agreed plan.

Their relationship then reached boiling point at the Singapore GP, when a strange Ferrari strategy saw Vettel leapfrog Leclerc, much to the Monegasque’s annoyance.

The pair have spoken since the collision in Brazil and analyzed the incident with the team, agreeing to give each other more of a “margin” in the future.

“We need to work together for the team. Both of us understand that and that’s why we are also getting on well outside of the car,” he added.

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AUSTIN, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 03: 2019 Formula One World Drivers Champion Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP celebrates after the F1 Grand Prix of USA at Circuit of The Americas on November 03, 2019 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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‘I did not expect it’

After pressing the self destruct button on a number of occasions, Ferrari could only watch as Mercedes stormed away with the constructor’s championship – with driver Lewis Hamilton claiming his sixth title in the process.

However, Leclerc said he was surprised by how competitive he’s been in his maiden year with Ferrari and has been encouraged by the second half of the season.

“I am extremely happy about the progress I have made and how the team also progressed from the first race to the last race,” he said.

“As a driver, you always want more so I was not very satisfied with the way everything was going but with the second half, I am very happy.

“I did not expect to have, at the end of my first season, seven poles and two wins. This is crazy. I did not expect it.”

The Formula One calendar comes to its conclusion this weekend with drivers lining up for the Abu Dhabi GP.