Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Leclerc would welcome Hamilton as Ferrari team mate

2019 F1 season

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Charles Leclerc says he would enjoy the chance to go up against Lewis Hamilton if the world champion decidesd to join Ferrari.

Hamilton’s contract at Mercedes expires at the end of next season. Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has said he is satisfied with his current pairing of Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, whose contract also expires next year, but also said he was “happy” to hear Hamilton was potentially available in 2021.

Asked whether he would welcome Hamilton as a team mate Leclerc said: “Of course.

“At the end, we are in Formula 1 and we want to fight against the best. I’ve had a big opportunity this year to have Seb next to me who is a four time world champion and I’ve learned a lot from him.

“You can always learn from this type of champion so yes, of course.”

Hamilton’s future depends on the commitments of Mercedes, who have not extended their deal to continue in the championship after 2020, and team principal Toto Wolff.

“I know Toto is also looking at his options in terms of his future and only he will know what is the best thing for him and his family,” said Hamilton. “So I’m waiting to see what he’s doing with that.

“I love where I am so it’s definitely not a quick decision to do something else. But of course I think it’s only smart and wise for me to sit and think of what I want, if it is the last period or stage in my career.

“Actually, I want to keep winning. I want to keep being able to fight with these guys as well. I can’t really tell you what else is going to happen moving forwards.”

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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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63 comments on “Leclerc would welcome Hamilton as Ferrari team mate”

  1. This would make me a Hamilton fan forever. Moving to Ferrari and getting his 8th championship there. That would make him GOAT in my eyes.

    1. I agree. More titles for Merc is fine but moving on to another team and winning again would push him up a level for me – perhaps on a level no-one else has reached before.

    2. Not sure if I’d call him Goat, Buck, or Billy, but it would an amazing story if he achieves a WDC at Ferrari.
      @jureo
      Even Massa couldn’t do that ;)

      1. @coldfly You’re kidding, right?

        1. Which part? @shimks
          But given my historic contributions, you’re probably safe to assume that.

          1. Oh, come on, @coldfly! Goats and Billy the kid! :O)

    3. I also agree. And I think the open language Hamilton (and to a certain extent Wolff) are using about a possible move to Ferrari is insightful- it’s certainly on the table

    4. He doesn’t have anything to prove. I mean, Schu won all his titles with one team, didn’t he? It might still have said ‘Ferrari’ over the door but he made sure it was comprehensively de-Ferraried enough to win by bringing everyone who mattered from Bennetton with him.

      1. Schumi won 2 WDC’s with Benetton in 1994 and 1995 and then moved to Ferrari for the 1996 season. Then won 5 championships in a row from 2000-2004.

        Clearly a Hamilton fan who’s forgotten history and where records were originally smashed …

      2. Schumi won 2 out of 7 of his titles with Benetton- Ford and Renault in 94 and 95

        1. I know. Then he took that team to Maranello with him.

          1. I see what you did there.

          2. @Paul Duggan I don’t think you can credit MS for bringing his Benetton crew with him to Ferrari. That was orchestrated by Max Mosley and BE who had it in for Briatore, and who also wanted to create the new chapter post- Senna by having Ferrari end their WDC drought of 16 years at the time. There are accounts of MS asking his principals why he should go to ‘those red cars I’ve been passing in my Benetton.’ And it does seem strange he would leave the team one year ahead of his contract where he was winning WDC(s). Of course we know there was also huge controversy over illegalities of those ‘winning’ cars, and Max and Bernie wanted to distance their new propped up icon post-Senna from that mess too.

          3. Hey @Robbie (no Reply button on your post). That’s interesting and I’ve not heard that perspective before. Do you have references?
            Not doubting. I’d just like to know more.

    5. Agreed. Winning a title with a third team (who are clearly capable of producing fast cars but are an operational mess) would be a much bigger deal than a couple with Mercedes.

      However, with his lifelong Mercedes connections I’m not sure it’s a sensible career move for him. Then again this is Hamilton, he’s in a position to not have to play the long game; he’ll obviously have opportunities come his way after retirement.

      I think Hamilton is a good judge of people – if he feels that Wolff and other key personnel isn’t in it anymore, he may take that step, knowing the upside.

      I’ve got myself hyped about the idea so much so that I think it would be a shame if it didn’t come to fruition now.

      1. However, with his lifelong Mercedes connections

        How ‘lifelong’ is his Mercedes connection? @victor

        1. Basically his whole career?

    6. This would make me a Hamilton fan forever. Moving to Ferrari and getting his 8th championship there. That would make him GOAT in my eyes.

      This Vettel fan boy would have to agree with you

  2. Stay put where you are Lewis unless Mercedes decide otherwise. You are a global magnet. Petronas need you. Together you will achieve more and be GOAT. Tq

  3. Surely the smart thing for Merc is to do whatever it takes to sign Max (assuming they are committed to the sport)? Career-wise Red Bull is looking like a risky place to be. You’d have to think he’d be receptive.
    I can’t believe that Lewis really wants to sign for the dysfunctional mess that is Ferrari but I don’t think that it’s automatically the case that Merc will necessarily keep him just because he wants to stay.

    1. Merc would be crazy not to keep Hamilton

      1. Why? If you could choose between Hamilton and Max for 2021 would you really rather have Hamilton? And probably see someone else tie Max up long term? He’s at least as quick as Hamilton (probably quicker), he’s still on an upward curve in 2019, you’re going to need a replacement for Hamilton soon anyway (and let’s face it; Bottas is *not* going to lead that team) and Max in a rival car is going to be a constant pain. You’d be crazy not to try and get Max, especially as Max would be crazy not to be investigating options other than RB right now.

      2. Would have to disagree. Max already looked like a better option than Lewis in 2019, and he’s only going to get stronger while Lewis’ performances plateaus and even dips within the next few years. It’s an absolute no-brainer for Mercedes to chase Max as option #1, and if that fails, then sign Lewis for a couple of more seasons. There’s just no way Max and Lewis would be teammates so it has to be either driver and not both.

        If you ask me, Mercedes should really be looking at a Verstappen – Bottas or Verstappen – Russell/Norris line up for 2021.

        1. @todfod

          Max already looked like a better option than Lewis in 2019

          At the start of the season perhaps you would have a point. But looking at Verstappen’s season- could you really see him beating 413 points across the season? I can’t.

          1. @blazzz

            He had a patch of rough races (4 or 5 I think) after the summer break. But his peaks in performance were much higher than Lewis’ during the season and they were more frequent as well. I think with Lewis’ machinery, he could have crossed 413 points

          2. @blazzz Give him a dominant car with which he has more to lose than to gain by taking risks, and then we’ll see. Verstappen takes the risks he does because he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Hamilton has little to gain and more to lose by taking huge risks. Look at Vettel when he has a dominant car versus when he actually has to fight for podiums and so on. Or Hamilton in the last few races of 2016. It makes a huge difference.

          3. @todfod

            I usually agree with your assessments but this time I think you are wrong and I will disagree.
            If Verstappen had 4 or 5 bad races- that’s 25 points not maximised. You aren’t going to get to the dizzying heights of 413 points by failing to maximise 4/5 races. Granted Hamilton also had some bad races but even then, Hamilton’s worst performannces were better than Verstappen’s- Germany, Hungary and Brazil.

            Least we forget- Albon was actually outscoring Verstappen prior to Brazil. That isn’t 413 points beating form across a season I have to say.

            As usual I feel with Max his reputation inflates his actually abilities. He is blisteringly quick but if he can’t maximise those peaks more frequently as he has shown at certain points throughout his 5 season career, I don’t think he will ever meet the inflated narrative that has stuck in large sections of the F1 world.

          4. @mashiat

            Verstappen takes the risks he does because he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

            I have never understood this excuse. Nothing to lose like what, a race win as he needlessly did with Ocon? Many of Verstappen’s incidents are avoidable- like the lunge on Bottas in Mexico as well. So if Verstappen takes more risks thereby losing points to lets just say his team mate- as he was doing with Albon in the early-mid parts of their head to head, and his did with Ricciardo- is what you are actually saying that Max isn’t complete/mature enough to play his percentages better? As I said, I don’t get that excuse for not maximising points that the car is capable of getting.

            Where will agree though that the jury is still out- if/when he gets another competitive team mate like Ricciardo, a dominant car then some of those questions will be answered.

          5. Granted Hamilton also had some bad races but even then, Hamilton’s worst performannces were better than Verstappen’s- Germany, Hungary and Brazil

            Just to clarify- I mean Hamilton’s worse performances in Austria (not Hungary), Germany and Brazil weren’t as bad as Verstappen’s in Belgium, Monza and Mexico.

          6. @blazzz I never stated his judgement would be perfect, but there is no doubt that Verstappen would become a lot more cautious if he had a championship on the line. Right now, on a good day he’s on the podium, and he has absolutely no chance at the WDC, so why not risk things to get a couple of wins? Red Bull risked their power units for Spa and Monza by pushing them hard in Hungary to try and win the race, because that’s all they can really hope for at this point. Think about what Hamilton said in Brazil this year, now that he doesn’t have the WDC to fight for, he can take a lot more risks, and even the 6-time world champion made an error and clashed late on.

          7. After Max identified that both Ferraris were 2 stopping after hearing it in the background while communicating with his engineer, I stopped questioning his ability…

      3. It depends.

        If Merc are exiting F1 within the next 5 years (say in a 2023-24 timeframe), it might make sense to keep the band together with the current line-up of Hamilton and Bottas, and then quit F1 alongside the end of Hamilton’s next contract. Typically, that would be timed with both a bigger presence in FE, and a bigger push towards electrification of their road car portfolio.

        On the other hand, if Merc have decided that the halo brand that F1 offers will hold value for longer, and are committed to staying for nearly a decade longer, then it would make sense to snap up Max in 2021 and build the team and car around him, with a similar exit strategy as outlined above.

        That would all therefore depend on how Ola Källenius and the Mercedes board view the RoI that F1 offers, and at what point (if ever) does FE become the horse to back.

        1. Even if Mercedes wants to leave – I think it could even happen* as soon as 2021 – they should have a top-notch driver contracted to be able to sell the team for a fair price. @phylyp

          Leaving could also be fairly soft, by selling the shares in tranches.
          I doubt they’ll simply close shop in Brackley (not that convinced about the PU company though).

          1. @coldfly – very good point, I didn’t think of how a contracted driver could add value to the sale of the team.

            A soft exit, in my opinion, would be done only if they are partnered with another automotive major, and that doesn’t seem likely. I don’t think they’d want to start transferring their stake in the team to a non-auto partner, since that will signal impending weakness in the team over the long run (i.e. Red Bull are probably the only team to have bucked the trend of the recent past by being competitive despite not being an automotive company).

            The PU company would be around, won’t they? They are contracted for 2021 to McLaren, and it might seem a decent way to recoup investment until the PU regs change.

          2. I don’t think they’d want to start transferring their stake in the team to a non-auto partner

            They sold/gave/transferred part of the shares to ‘non-auto partner’ T.Wolff ;)
            And the rumours were wide-spread, yet short-lived, that Penske was talking to Mercedes. That could be a partnership (as opposed to Mazepin – also rumoured – which I can’t see as a partnership).
            @phylyp

            Not sure if the make money on the PU’s. The invoices for the Merc Team never get paid; Williams let Russell draw up a fake cheque; and, a shrewd Stroll Sr would have negotiated a special deal to settle to old unpaid Force India bills and future supply.

      4. Ferrari would be crazy not to get Hamilton.

    2. I don’t think that it’s automatically the case that Merc will necessarily keep him just because he wants to stay.

      Sounds to me like your wish list, especially coupled with your initial statement of Merc breaking the bank to sign Max. Personally if Lewis leaves, I would overlook Max for Daniel Ricciardo- who despite not having Verstappen’s outright pace, was the more complete driver and showed us again what history has taught us many times- F1 is about more than just ultimate speed.

      1. Not a wish list! I’m a big fan of Lewis. I’ve cheered Lewis all the way through his career and I don’t understand how some people can dispute that he’s one of the all-time best. I dislike Max’ attitude, his at-times-dangerous defending and over-aggressiveness but I think history will show that he is in the same tier as Lewis.

        Re-signing Lewis would also involve ‘breaking the bank’. Money is not the issue.

        And yes, F1 is about more than just ultimate speed (Lewis’ trouble with head-issues at various points over the years will tell you that) but signing Ricciardo over Max would only make sense if you couldn’t afford Max. And Merc can. I’m not sure what ‘complete’ means here but Max gave Danny a proper kicking two years ago and now he’s better – better in every way, not just quicker.

        1. @Paul Duggan

          I’m not sure what ‘complete’ means here but Max gave Danny a proper kicking two years ago and now he’s better – better in every way, not just quicker.

          But Ricciardo left with the better RBR record though- 2 season victories vs 1. Fact

          As I pointed out in my comments above I feel like Verstappen’s abilities don’t quite match the hype- yet.

          1. @blazzz agree with the hype. I admire Verstappen and he has fantastic days when he is remarkable but unfortunately he doesn’t drive enough with his head yet and his risky approach works as long as he is not championship contender.

            Hamilton can back off and let some room even if he loses a place in the process to maximize his points. If Vertsappen becomes a championship contenders, I can see a lot more doors closing and racing incidents involving him.

            I also believe Mercedes and RBR cars are currently tailored around their drivers and fits pretty well Hamilton and Verstappen respectively. Not sure we would see the same drives from them if we permute them as both cars have different characteristics.

          2. @blazzz I think you are being unfair to Max on a few fronts. You seem to be shading how engrained LH is with his 6 time WCC car that fits him like a glove. Oh sure you acknowledge LH’s ‘dizzying’ 413 points, but don’t really acknowledge what it has taken equipment and team wise for LH to do that. You also seem to be putting the blame for 4 or 5 bad races completely on Max. Max didn’t cause a component change that sent him to the back. He didn’t ask CL to punt him out of one race. He had a racing incident with LH that also destroyed a race. These things are the only reason Albon outscored him over those initial races after the summer break. It obviously wasn’t that AA was outperforming Max. Some have called Albon ‘more consistent’ and therefore the better points getter over that period…when they choose to ignore why Max was getting less points over those races. Let’s look at Max’s consistent points haul over the entire season that has seen him head both Ferraris and be only behind the WCC cars but in the third best car in the WCC.

            To be fair, let’s imagine what Max would be doing in a WCC car that he has had for 6 seasons. Not just a WCC car but a dominant one. I agree with @mashiat You want to see Max meet the hype? Be more consistent? Have less worse low points than LH? Put him in the dominant WCC car and he’ll start from the front row much more often and won’t have to race like he has to force his car where it doesn’t really belong (other than at a few select tracks that is).

          3. @jeanrien I fully expect that when Max has a WCC car he will be able to change his driving needs and won’t be involved in more ‘doors closing’ and ‘racing incidents’ as he will be in a car that more suits him like a glove and therefore he’d be in more control knowing exactly what the car will do when he asks of it, and he will be on average starting higher on the grid with fewer cars ahead of him, and little need to take risks. He’d be much more able to look at the long term plan over the season than to have to jump on every little opportunity even when a bit risky.

          4. @blazzz Wrt Max and Ricciardo, it is one thing to claim it as fact that their seasons were 2-1 in favour of DR, but of course one of those seasons had Max start on the team a third of the season in, and of course then there are the facts of Max leading all the other stats wrt out-qualifying, laps lead ahead of DR, etc that saw Max fighting with the big boys way more than DR did. Yup young Max made mistakes too, and opened the door for DR on several occasions. DR ‘beat’ Vettel in 2014 too. Then he went on to be beaten by Kvyat the next season. So those are facts too. Shouldn’t we look at some details rather than throw out select facts?

            Point being, you can state one fact such as 2-1 in seasons of Max vs DR, yet which one is garnering the bulk of the excitement in F1? Which one is being touted as the one every top team would love to have? The one folks here are opining Mercedes needs to go after?

          5. @robbie

            I fully accounted for the fact that Ricciardo scored 220 points from Spain and Verstappen 191.
            I believe 220 > 191 from Spain 2016 onwards for that season hence addressing your point. The rest of your post is, in my opinion, alot of subjective interpretations based on which driver you prefer- in your case Verstappen.

            Shouldn’t we look at some details rather than throw out select facts?

            F1 is a mechanical sport and as such unfortunately the mechanical aspect skews results. But it is what it is- Ricciardo may not have had Max’s ultimate pace but he did beat Max 2-1. That is just a fact. No amount of whatabouttery will change the standings- I remember on these boards the same pro Hamilton comments being dismissed when Rosberg won his championship.

            I am not arguing that Ricciardo was quicker than Verstappen- I am just arguing that while Verstappen had the edge on ultimate pace Ricciardo had the edge in other aspects such as actually
            finishing races and maximising points.

          6. @blazzz I think it is folly to not take into account what lead to the facts. You seem to want to dismiss the reality that Max was new to the team and hadn’t had the pre-season testing nor the initial races to gel with the car and the team, like DR did. So to you it is just fair game and the realities don’t matter? I mean, I look at 220 to 191 and it tells me give Max the pre-season and those initial races and he indeed would have outpointed DR. But yeah no question, and I did acknowledge that Max was his own worst enemy at times, and at times that handed points directly to DR. I take your point about no amount of whatabouttery changing the standings, but of course they can go a long way to explaining the reality of situations or of standings. In the case of LH/NR for example, few are willing to just accept that Nico won without throwing in that LH had more unreliability. The reality is that Nico also had some technical issues even if fewer, and it took all he had to beat LH, and LH also had more than a few dodgy starts that cost him in races, particularly to Nico in the only other car that was anywhere near within a shout of WDC/WCC capable. But I guess you are saying that you yourself simply accept the fact that Nico beat LH in 2016, full stop?

            Anyway, kind of moot with Max/DR now anyway, as Max indeed had the greater pace and now that he has harnessed that and kept it clean at the same time I would say that a ‘rematch’ of Max/DR would show DR soundly beaten as he would not be able to depend on Max giving points away to him in order to outpoint him. He’d have to race for it, and when they were together Max was starting ahead of DR 2 to 1 times.

          7. @robbie I would be glad to be wrong on this one as this would be a fantastic prospect. We want great driver to battle out with respect but I am not yet convinced Verstappen can reason that way… Time will tell.
            On the positive note, Verstappen reactions to some incidents early in the season were different to previous years and he seemed a bit more constructive.

  4. Next year’s silly season will be crazy

    1. I sort of hope so, @m-bagattini. But I do think that unless Merc wants to splash out for a big name second driver, the top three teams will very likely remain as they are, which will leave many other teams as they are (more or less).

      We’ll see!!

  5. Leclerc would slaughter Hamilton. History won’t look kindly on Hamilton’s gifted Merc championships, he’s never had a teammate to prove his talents against.

    1. Either you don’t rate Alonso (who Hamilton proved himself against rather convincingly in his rookie season), in which case I’d like hear why he wasn’t really all that, or maybe you’re just not old enough to remember 2007. Enjoy F1 son, it’s a fun sport!

      1. Yes, he proved his talents against Jenson Button in 2011, losing by 40+ points. Also against Nico Rosberg in 2016 and lost again though it was more marginal. And while both were above average, nobody would think they were GOATs.

    2. Leclerc would be battered silly by Hamilton at this stage you absolute muppet.

    3. Looks like there’s a new bigjoe in town and his name is just ‘john’ absolute clown of a human being. 🤡🤡🤡

      1. It’s OK to disagree but why getting so personal?

      2. rb13 That made me laugh mate that guy aint been on here for a while imagine thinking Leclerc would slaughter Hamilton. Hamilton would slaughter Seb so do you rate Vet higher than Ham or something these guys haha…

    4. Except for Kovalainen and Bottas his teammates were world champions…
      This year Valtteri could have become world champion too, but Lewis was too strong.

  6. Isn’t all this just being said at this stage to destabilize Vettel?

    1. @nickwyatt No. He was asked a question, and he answered the exact same way every single driver on the grid would.

      1. @mashiat yes, I understand that but the journo who asked the question was after the unguarded response, the unfortunate meaning from Leclerc to destabilize the situation.

    2. Vettel should not feel comfortable no matter what is being said in public about Hamilton! Vettel has been so poor that Hamilton has been paying him compliments while he and Max have been trading barbs because they see each other as threats. Vettel is simply not in a stable position and that’s based entirely on his own performance (in both absolute terms as well as in comparison to Leclerc). Vettel is grounded enough to know that.

  7. I thought it was a picture from a new Sonic vs Mario movie

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