Charles Leclerc has revealed he received a letter of gratitude from Sebastian Vettel prior to making his Formula 1 debut in 2018.
During the 2017 campaign, Leclerc coupled his FIA Formula 2 duties with testing and simulator duties for Ferrari, as part of his role with the driver academy.
Vettel was enjoying his third season as a Ferrari driver, and contested against Lewis Hamilton for the title before his bid fell away in the latter stages of the campaign.
The German driver, who departed Ferrari for Aston Martin in 2021, retired from F1 following the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last month.
Speaking ahead of Vettel’s final F1 race, Leclerc said: ”He’s been incredible. I remember, already in Formula 2, I was doing the simulator work, which, okay, it’s not easy work to do.
“It’s really, really tiring and I thought that Seb probably didn’t even know I was on the simulator.
“And I received a letter one day, just thanking me for all the hard work. And that meant a lot for me at that time.”
Leclerc would then partner Vettel at Ferrari for the 2019 and 2020 campaigns prior to the four-time World Champion’s exit from the team.
Although they endured difficult moments on the track, Leclerc commended Vettel the teachings and friendship he offered.
“We became team-mates in 2019 and 2020 also, where he has taught me really a lot,” Leclerc added.
“We’ve had our tense moments on track, but the respect off the track has never changed and he’s always been there for me whenever I had difficult times.
“And that was very different to what I was used to with my previous team-mates. Obviously, in Formula 1 it’s normal, there’s inner competition inside the team but he has always been super caring and trying to help me whenever I was going through more difficult times.
“But yeah, he will definitely be missed. I’m sure that he will enjoy his time off the racetrack, and that he will find other things that makes him happy.”