Charles Leclerc believes the presence of Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari will only help him continue to improve as a driver, but reckons he has to embrace the challenge of trying to better the four-time world champion.
Before the start of the 2019 season, Ferrari did not hide their intentions to favour Vettel whenever they thought the German would benefit, with team orders regularly being handed out in the first batch of races. However, Leclerc has proved himself, particularly in the last few races, to be, at least, on-par with his multi-world champion team-mate.
With Vettel being constantly undermined by the partisan Italian sports media who are influential at Ferrari, support is moving over to Leclerc, who thinks it is important that he tries to prove himself against the more experienced driver.
"It was always going to be a very interesting challenge for me," he told BBC Sport.
"I am at the beginning of my career. He is a very experienced driver and to have him by my side is very important because I can definitely grow a lot and learn a lot things from him, which I did from the beginning of the season.
"But it is also a great challenge for me to try to beat him, and that's what I am here for. I always want to be the fastest on track and I always try to give absolutely everything to be in front.”
It has taken Leclerc a few races to get to grips with his new Ferrari, but now appears to be flourishing. He has highlighted the aftermath of the Canadian Grand Prix as the time when he shifted his attention to focus more on qualifying.
"This definitely was a positive point of the season," he continued.
"Then, whether it is going to be the turning point or not, I don't know.
"But as I've said, I am still very early in my racing career and I am pretty sure there is a lot more I can learn and a lot more things I can do better. I will focus on these things and hopefully there will be even more turning points in the future."
After the soul-searching following the Canadian GP, Leclerc has outperformed Vettel in every qualifying round so far in France, Austria, and Great Britain.
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