Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Hamilton: “Unfair” to expect Leclerc to beat Vettel

2019 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton says new Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc should not be expected to be immediately at the level of his team mate Sebastian Vettel.

Asked whether Leclerc can rival Vettel in his first season at Ferrari, Hamilton said: “Time will tell. I think it would be unfair to put that kind of expectation on his shoulders.

“It’s only his second year. He’s young, he’s going to make mistakes. He’s obviously very quick, very talented and hopefully, most likely, he’s gonna surprise many people.

“But you’re talking about a veteran out there now who’s a four-time world champion. There’s no substitute for experience. So it will interesting to see how those two parallels work together.”

However Hamilton, 34, said the 21-year-old Leclerc will have the advantage of youth.

“The great thing with a youngster is that you’re energised beyond belief and determined and you have more energy than the oldest do. I’ve been in that same position at McLaren.”

Asked about his own team mate, Hamilton predicted Valtteri Bottas will be more aggressive in his approach following his win-less 2018 campaign.

“I’m not someone that generally has expectations of anything but I would assume he’s going to try and be more aggressive this year. I’m sure he’s going to be pushing harder. I’m sure he’s pushing harder in his training. He’s always been incredibly determined since the day he got here And that’s not wavered. I’m sure he knows where he needs to put his focuses to.

“Him with his guys on the other side, I [only] see the top of his head on the screen so I don’t really know about the difference in his approach but I’ll see that once we get into the race season.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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13 comments on “Hamilton: “Unfair” to expect Leclerc to beat Vettel”

  1. I think that is a fair assessment by LH.

    1. His comments about Valtteri were more interesting. I believe he can compete with Lewis, and was surprised he didn’t win any races last year.

      1. I’m surprised Lewis mentioned Bottas’ aggression.

        If I was Bottas I would read that as “He thinks he can bully me/I’m a pushover”, which to be fair, he has been so far.

        I wouldn’t have said that if I was Lewis. I wouldn’t have alerted Valtteri to that potential weakness.

        Not that it’s a big deal.

  2. @drycrust

    Valtteri seemed ahead for several races when the Mercedes wasn’t its best on the tires. Not that may people seem to remember Lewis having that not so good patch early in the season.

    1. Not that may people seem to remember Lewis having that not so good patch early in the season

      Probably because there wasn’t even really that bad of a bad patch for Hamilton at the start, in the first 5 races he was right on it in Aus and Spain, had a gearbox penalty in Bahrain but had much better race pace than Vettel and Bottas, even with Verstappen driving over the end of his front wing.
      The only real off race he had was China, and even then he wasn’t significantly worse than any of the other top 6 with everyone pretty much circling in procession until the Red Bulls last pitstops.

      1. There’s canada as well!

        1. Yeah where Hamilton had a brake issue in qualifying and a cooling failure during the race. Your point?

        2. What about Canada? Hamilton had a brake issue in qualifying and cooling failure during the race.

  3. I’m so tired of the LeClerc hype, i don’t think he’s that good. The guys can’t even string a proper qualifying lap, he’s good but nothing special and he sucks in the rain.

    1. I thought the same. But his Brazil qualification effort tipped the scales a bit for me. Nonetheless, the British media seems to hype him only to put more pressure on the German they hate. None of them even mentioned the difference of pressure there will be at Ferrari compared to sauber. Everything is more at a top Team, it’s both the up and the downside of those teams.

  4. 2018 is not a win-less season for Bottas. He won in Russia.

    1. Perhaps not so literally, but yes, if he didn’t risk to jeopardize his place in mercedes by disobeying team orders, would’ve surely won russia.

  5. Hamilton wants to help Leclerc in any possible way, to make life hard for Vettel. The biggest challenge for LeClerc right now is the huge pressure that comes with driving a Ferrari, so this is one of the best things LH can do for CL. Well played.

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