Leclerc lost the first victory of his F1 career when Verstappen passed him late on at the Red Bull Ring, a move that triggered a lengthy post-race review as the two banged wheels and Leclerc ended up off track.
Afterwards, a video circulated on social media that showed a young Leclerc dismissing a WSK Euro Series karting clash with Verstappen in 2012 as just a racing incident, while Verstappen complained of being taken out – a reversal of their roles in Austria.
Asked by Motorsport.com if he had seen the video and found it amusing despite the circumstances, a laughing Leclerc replied: “Yeah, it is quite funny, I’ve seen it everywhere on social media really.
“I think it was completely the other way around when I was saying it was an incident and he was saying that I pushed him off-track.
“Now seven years later it’s it’s the same, the other way around, in Formula 1, both of us driving for two top teams.
“I think it reminds at least me the road that we have done together since these times, we were kids, dreaming of one day being in Formula 1, and now we are fighting each other in Formula 1. That’s great to see.”
Leclerc and Verstappen’s rivalry in karts included some “tricky moments” according to the Ferrari driver, who believes that history is “good for the show” in F1.
He said that his relationship with Verstappen has got “quite a lot better” over the years, admitting “we were not the best friends” when they started racing.
“When you are young, any time something happens, straight away he will become my enemy and the same for him,” said Leclerc. “We were quite young, it was probably back in 2012 and 2013.
“We are still pretty young but we have matured quite a lot.”
Leclerc to race more aggressively after clash
Leclerc says he is happy to race aggressively, like how Verstappen won in Austria, if their controversial incident is consistently viewed as acceptable.
Ferrari felt the decision not to punish Verstappen was wrong in the context of similar incidents resulting in a penalty, but Leclerc said he did not have “any problems” not and “it was very easy for me to move on”.
“The only thing is that I would like maybe a bit more consistency,” he said. “There have been some other incidents in the past which have been smaller in a way and that have been penalised.
“If we can race that way, then I’m more than happy to race that way.
“I think it’s good for Formula 1, I think this is what us drivers want, but we just need to know what we can expect from the others.”
It has been suggested that the proliferation of run-off and penalties for drivers forcing rivals off track and gaining an advantage has led to some refusing to yield when being overtaken, because if they end up forced wide they can bank on the aggressor being punished.
Leclerc said he did not approach his Verstappen fight with that mentality and reiterated that “there been different penalties for maybe the same severities, or very small incidents, that has been penalised a lot”.
He admitted that ultimately he was “very happy with this decision” provided the officials remain consistent and would adapt his driving style to suit by “adjusting a little bit my aggressiveness”.
Leclerc added: “Obviously it’s better if it’s just official, so that everyone knows it and that’s it. But yeah, now I think I will just conclude that we can go a bit further in our aggressiveness on track.”
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15, collides with Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF90
Photo by: Lorenzo Bellanca / LAT Images