Sebastian Vettel admits that he felt he could see his younger self reflected in former Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc.
The four-time World Champion raced alongside several drivers during his F1 career, having shared a garage with the likes of Mark Webber, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen.
It was in 2019 that Vettel was first partnered by Leclerc at the Scuderia, with the youngster joining the team in only his second year in Formula 1.
This occurred during a period of time in which Vettel admits that he had already started to have some thoughts about his life away from the sport, given the difficulties faced by Ferrari.
“In ’17, we had a great car, and we fell short,” Vettel told the Beyond The Grid podcast.
“[In] ’18, we had a great car, [but] we fell short again, at the end. Just both years, we didn’t keep the development pace up, and we just fell back, so we got beaten.
“’19 was a bit of an odd year, because the start of the season wasn’t, let’s say – to me, at least – giving me [or] us the momentum to feel, ‘Alright, here we go again’.
“So then you start to think [about] what might have actually been the problem the last couple of years, and maybe there were too many thoughts. At the same time, Charles came in.”
Vettel reflects on relationship with Leclerc
Despite being at different stages in their careers, Vettel enjoyed working with Leclerc and felt that he learned a lot from the Monegasque.
“[Leclerc was] in a very different time in his career and his life,” Vettel explained.
“And it was funny, because I watched him and we got along really well, I think. I really enjoyed the time we spent together.
“He taught me some things, not necessarily about driving, 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.”
Vettel: Maybe I lost myself in the process
In contrast to Leclerc – who had yet to score an F1 victory before joining Ferrari – Vettel had his targets set much higher, something that he acknowledges may have caused him to “lose” himself.
“My target was not to just win a race, I’ve done that,” the German said.
“My target was to win the championship and ideally win the championship the way I wanted to win the championship, which is winning many, many races.
“Maybe I lost myself a little bit in that process, and maybe my races here and there weren’t the finest.
“But still, I will say the lessons that I had – and I would say some of the races were pretty good – were more important.
“Then coming into the year 2020, obviously, with a pandemic, and it was making room for that voice inside me to grow as well.
“Interesting, but I would just call it life, and I think we all go through that one way or another. I’m no exception, I’m nothing special.”