• Max Verstappen is the defending champion in F1 2022
  • Out of the three races this season, he has won just one
  • Charles Leclerc is currently at the top of the F1 2022 standings

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has revealed that he and Red Bull's Max Verstappen "hated each other" during their karting days.

Leclerc and Verstappen have gone neck to neck so far in the opening three races of F1 2022. Despite that, the defending champion has failed to finish two races and has just 25 points after three Grand Prix races.

Leclerc has claimed two victories in three races, while he has bagged a podium finish in each of the instances. He is at the top of the F1 2022 standings with 71 points, 34 points clear of the second-placed George Russell of Mercedes.

"It is going to be very close. It has always been very close. In karting, it was either me or him and that's why we hated each other at one point because very often it didn't end in the best way possible," Leclerc said in an interview, BBC Sport reported.

Verstappen, who won his maiden F1 championship on the final race of the season last year in Abu Dhabi, has had a less controversial run so far in the ongoing campaign. He had a series of incidents with Lewis Hamilton when they both fought out for the drivers' title in 2021.

However, the Red Bull racer and Leclerc have raced cleanly so far and have shown mutual respect and warmth out of the car.

"In which parts we are stronger or not (as drivers), I don't know. We just have two very different styles of driving. In some days one will win, in some the other will. But I like it," added Leclerc.

Meanwhile, Verstappen has insisted that he has not changed his perspective this season.

"I race exactly like I always race because that is how I am. Everyone is different in their defense and their attack, and so far Charles and I race very well together because we know where we want to place the car and how much room we need to leave for each other. That works out really well for both of us," the Dutchman was quoted by The Telegraph.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc leads the pack into the first corner at the 2022 Formula One Australian Grand Prix
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc leads the pack into the first corner at the 2022 Formula One Australian Grand Prix AFP / Con Chronis

In the latest race weekend in Australia, Leclerc edged out Verstappen to claim his second pole position of the year. The Monaco national went on to win the race, while Verstappen was forced to retire due to a technical failure.

"Charles is aggressive, too, and you can clearly see that. We have nice battles, but we don't touch," the 24-year-old Verstappen added further.

The two racers will next be in action this weekend during the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.