Drivers, Mercedes, Circuit de Catalunya, 2020

Who will follow Hamilton as Formula 1’s next world champion?

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Lewis Hamilton is unquestionably the dominant force in Formula 1 today.

He’s won five of the last six world championships, and came incredibly close to making it a clean sweep. A little better luck in 2016, or perhaps one fewer dodgy start, could have made the five-point difference he needed to stop Nico Rosberg snatching the title.

With that, Hamilton would be on a record streak of six consecutive world championships and already level with Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of seven. “If ifs and buts…”, of course, but it doesn’t change the fact that Hamilton and his devastating Mercedes cars have been the benchmark since the V6 hybrid turbo regulations began.

All things must come to an end however: Just as Fernando Alonso stopped Michael Schumacher’s run of five world titles and Hamilton himself halted Sebastian Vettel’s four-championship streak.

Who will be the driver who draws a line under Hamilton’s dominance? Will it be one of the current crop of upcoming bright talents? Could Vettel end his Ferrari career on a championship-winning high? Or will the greatest threat to Hamilton, as in 2016, come from within his own team?

Here are a few of the top contenders – vote for the driver you think is most likely to succeed Hamilton below.

Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019
Bottas led the championship at the beginning of last year
Hamilton’s team mate put him on notice at the start of last year by winning the season-opening race and edging ahead in the early points standings. The hyper-mongers went overboard proclaiming the arrival of ‘Bottas 2.0’, but reality bit once the season returned to Europe and Hamilton’s grinding consistency won him another title. Nonetheless last year was Bottas’s most convincing season yet since his promotion to Mercedes, and his steady chipping away at Hamilton’s advantage make him a definite contender.

Sebastian Vettel

However patchy Vettel’s last few seasons at Ferrari have been, you simply cannot rule out a driver with his pedigree. He led the 2017 and 2018 title fights, and it’s debatable how well his equipment has measured up against Hamilton’s over the latter years. He will start the season knowing it’s his last in a Ferrari, so perhaps we may see a different Vettel when the championship finally begins.

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Charles Leclerc

It didn’t take long for Leclerc to establish himself as Ferrari’s new darling. He beat Vettel on every metric over their first season together, and the final scoreline probably flattered his team mate”s performance. Leclerc faced down Hamilton superbly at Monza too, and we now wait with interest to see whether he can do the same over a full season, and whether the new Ferrari will be up to the task.

Max Verstappen

Like Leclerc, Verstappen has also arrived at a front-line team and established himself as the pre-eminent driver. Immensely quick and ferociously tough in wheel-to-wheel competition, he may finally have a title-contending car as Red Bull heads into the second year of its alliance with Honda.

Carlos Sainz Jnr

Sainz will join Leclerc at Ferrari next year
A 2020 title bid may not be on the cards for Carlos Sainz Jnr, but bast year’s top midfield driver will graduate to a car which should be a contender for victories and perhaps even the championship next year.

Daniel Ricciardo

Walking out of a front-running team was a gamble which appears to have backfired for Daniel Ricciardo. He snapped up the chance to take Sainz’s seat at McLaren next season, but it’s eight years since that team were championship contenders, and that doesn’t look likely to change in the short-term. His credentials as a race winner are not in dispute, however.

Alexander Albon

Like Verstappen, Alexander Albon may well have the necessary equipment at his disposal this year. But he’s only got one year of F1 experience under his belt, and just half of that at a top team. That said, if one feature has defined Albon’s career so far, it’s his tendency to be underestimated.

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I say

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya
Verstappen is a rising threat at Red Bull
It’s not an unrealistic thought that Bottas could ‘do a Rosberg’ on Hamilton. But Hamilton has to be more wary of that happening than he was four years ago, and unless Bottas really gets the rub of the green I don’t see it happening.

Does Vettel have a fifth title in him? It certainly looked that way in mid-2018, but too seldom since. Besides which, Leclerc is surely only going to get better in his third season of F1.

That leaves Leclerc and Verstappen as the most credible rivals to Hamilton in the short term. Both are seriously impressive talents and continually improving – Verstappen potentially slightly further on thanks to Red Bull rushing him into their top team so quickly. Leclerc perhaps has the edge on temperament.

What will make the difference between these two is most likely to be the quality of equipment they get. Ferrari look like they’re on the wrong side of a peak at the moment, while Red Bull are on the way up with Honda, so Verstappen gets my vote.

But for me the key question is not just who will succeed Hamilton as champion, but whether he will still be racing when it happens.

You say

Which of the current drivers will succeed Hamilton as F1’s next world champion? Or will it be someone who hasn’t even raced in F1 yet? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Who will be F1's next world champion after Lewis Hamilton?

  • Someone else (0%)
  • Nicholas Latifi (0%)
  • George Russell (4%)
  • Kevin Magnussen (0%)
  • Romain Grosjean (0%)
  • Antonio Giovinazzi (0%)
  • Kimi Raikkonen (1%)
  • Lance Stroll (1%)
  • Sergio Perez (0%)
  • Daniil Kvyat (0%)
  • Pierre Gasly (0%)
  • Esteban Ocon (0%)
  • Daniel Ricciardo (1%)
  • Lando Norris (1%)
  • Carlos Sainz Jnr (1%)
  • Alexander Albon (0%)
  • Max Verstappen (53%)
  • Charles Leclerc (29%)
  • Sebastian Vettel (3%)
  • Valtteri Bottas (3%)

Total Voters: 293

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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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65 comments on “Who will follow Hamilton as Formula 1’s next world champion?”

  1. I went for Max purely because I think RBR are more likely to get the machinery right than Ferrari in the short/medium term.

    I agree it’s pretty doubtful this will happen whilst Lewis is still driving.

    1. Yes, exactly, imo it’s verstappen or leclerc, but ferrari seems less an organized team than red bull in recent years, despite for now having the advantage, probably more related to the PU than anything else.

    2. I went for Max purely because is that good. Put him in a winning car and he will dominate the field. The guy reminds me of a mix between Senna and Schumacher

      1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        15th June 2020, 8:14

        I think the key comment here is “whilst Lewis is still driving”. I can’t see anyone beating Lewis or a Mercedes.
        Mercedes know this and they know Lewis will retire in maybe 3 or 4 years?. So I think they will get George Russell in the car “whilst Lewis is still driving” so he can have a year or two to learn before he is their Number 1. Then I think he will be good enough to take on Max and Charles.

        1. Anyone can beat Lewis. There are two requirements for that:
          1) you have to be in a Mercedes


          2) Lewis needs to be driving something other than a Mercedes.

          The chances increase significantly if both options happen at the same time.

          1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
            15th June 2020, 13:14

            I was assuming Lewis will stay with Mercedes until he retires and Leclerc or Vestappen won’t join Mercedes anytime soon.
            So yes anyone can be Lewis, but they won’t. Rosberg was better than Bottas and he had to get a bit lucky to beat Lewis over a season. It seems a long shot now but I have a sneaking feeling the next WC other than Lewis will be George Russell.

  2. I reckon Lance Stroll has it in the bag .

    1. His dad would need to buy every team on the grid, and then place Stroll in a Mercedes with crash test dummies in the other 19 cars.

  3. We might be in for some thrilling battles in post-Hamilton era between Verstappen, Russell, Leclerc, Sainz and possibly Norris, but if Verstappen gets hold of a superior car, he’s going to be, thanks to his experience, nearly unbeatable. Let’s hope we won’t face another 15 years of dominance.

    My wish is to see Leclerc winning the first title after Hamilton’s era, hopefully even this year.

    1. Fernando Alonso

    2. I wouldn’t mind that, if anything verstappen reminds me of schumacher, I liked schumacher’s dominance, so why not verstappen’s.

  4. Given the form from preseason testing Mercs will be difficult to beat. Bottas if he can keep it clean will have his best chance to win title this year.

    1. Bottas if he can keep it clean will have his best chance to win title this year.

      ….and that day the pigs will be able to fly for sure…..!

  5. Bottas in 2020. The modified calendar suits him perfectly. He has always been mighty good in Red Bull Ring and very close to Hamilton’s pace in Silverstone. Last year he was on course for a win until VSC gifted a win to Hamilton. Bottas has also beaten Hamilton in Monza.

    1. @huhhii you claim that the VSC “gifted a win to Hamilton”, but realistically Bottas was going to lose that race on strategy – even Bottas said afterwards that the VSC didn’t cost him the race and that Hamilton was on a better strategy to begin with.

      Bottas was committed to a two stop strategy, but never really had the pace in race trim to make the difference – when you look at the flying laps he set on his new medium tyres at the start of his second stint in the laps before the VSC and the times that Hamilton was setting on his used medium tyres, Hamilton was still setting competitive lap times (he was still in the mid to low 1m30s bracket, which is similar to what Bottas was achieving).

      In order for Bottas’s strategy to work, he either needed to build a lead of about 30 seconds before making his second stop, or have enough of a performance advantage to be able to catch back up to, and then pass, Hamilton on track again.

      Having pitted on lap 16, that gives Bottas 36 laps over which to find that time – meaning he’d need an advantage of about 0.83s per lap on average over Hamilton to offset that additional time in the pits. However, although it is only a brief snapshot, the times he was setting just after his stop were only a couple of tenths faster (on lap 19, the lap before the VSC, Bottas set a 1m30.62s lap and Hamilton a 1m30.78s lap, so Bottas was only 0.16s faster on much fresher tyres).

      The indication was that Bottas was going to lose as soon as he went for a two stop strategy and Hamilton a one stop. The VSC might have increased the net gap, but Bottas just wasn’t fast enough to begin with to make his strategy work even if the race ran under green flag conditions all the way through – he’s still losing that race anyway, just maybe by 15 seconds instead of 25 seconds.

    2. Iskandar Mezzo
      14th June 2020, 12:29

      Bottas beat Hamilton at Monza after Hamilton worn out his tyres chasing Leclerc. Bottas could not even mount a challenge to Leclerc and Toto was visibly upset in the garage.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        14th June 2020, 17:28

        I really doubt he was annoyed specifically with Bottas. Who else in his team failed to get by? Hamilton. If you emember the race that well, you would remember that every time Bottas was in DRS range of Leclerc, Leclerc also had DRS and a tow from back markers whiche really helped Leclerc out.. These were actually the occations Bottas was closest to getting a pass done. He could well have got by if it wasn’t for the traffic. But neither him or Hamilton managed it. I think anyone who makes a point about Bottas having a better race than Hamilton is right.. All that time spent close to the back of leclerc in the end was more of a negative than a positive; it resulted in 3rd rather than 2nd.

        But it is only one race and overall this season, Bottas didn’t have the ame pace as Hamilton.

        However, If he starts his seasons like he did in all 3 at Mercedes (All being strong), I think he may have a chance of being champion this year. But several things may need to help him. Every year so far, Hamilton had had better luck and/or reliability. If that was the opposite way round, which almost seems due for a change, and being a shorter season, it is entirely possible. But the other thing that could do with being the case too is mercedes at least the majority of the time having the best car.

        1. F1oSaurus (@)
          14th June 2020, 20:53

          @thegianthogweed Hamilton was pushed off track and blocked when he had Leclerc twice. Bottas never even mounted an attack.

    3. @huhhii Wait, so you weren’t in the 2% of people to vote for Raikkonen? I’m genuinely curious who they are now.

      1. @mashiat That 2% is wiser than me. True crème de la crème of RaceFans users. :)

        1. @huhhii I can’t wait to see Alonso and Massa return to recreate the Hamilton vs. Alonso vs. Raikkonen vs. Massa championship battle at the front.

  6. DAllein (@)
    14th June 2020, 11:28


    Verstappen is not a champion material. Period.

    1. You’re right he’s not ‘a’ champion material, he’s a multi-Champion material. Period.

      1. Looks like the authority on the subject has spoken. What an unwarrantably toxic comment.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          14th June 2020, 14:34

          This is the guy who argued that Coronavirus wasn’t real…. I wouldn’t pay too much attention to anything he says other than for a quick laugh.

          1. @petebaldwin agreed. He and I have crossed paths before!

          2. Isn’t he paid by RB to post his saccharine sweet nonsense? At least I hope there is nobody out there that would post such sychophantic garbage and only be a fan.

          3. ColdFly (@)
            14th June 2020, 17:31

            This is the guy who argued that Coronavirus isn’t real…

            It got him CotD though, @petebaldwin

        2. God said Max would be the greatest F1 driver ever, and that was before Max had gotten an F1 drive. So Robbie (@robbie) is correct, “…he’s a multi-Champion material”. That doesn’t mean Max will be the driver after Lewis to win a World Drivers’ Championship, which is what the question asks, but I think it is the most likely scenario.

    2. Jeroen Bons
      14th June 2020, 19:38

      If…IF.. finally Lewis H. starts to lose his nerve… and… if the Merc. is not the best on track… and if…. just if.. the RB car is as good as we hope it is.. then.. there is a chance that Max V.,, with some frustrating help from his former mate Carlos by accidentally pushing LClrc’S car from the track … then yes there is a chance that MV will be LH’s successor… but it could also be Nico Hulkenberg, for all I know…. we know nothing.

    3. You will have some hard times coming it seems.

  7. I voted for Charles Leclerc.

  8. Leclerc or Verstappen would be the obvious because they are in the next best cars. The question is who will replace Hamilton, Russell or Ocon?
    Ricciardo is an outside chance if McLaren keep improving, Sainz I think needs to push Leclerc out of the way and that’s a big task.
    Can’t see it being Bottas.

  9. I see most people agree with my choice.

    Max and Charles look like they are genuinly faster than Lewis. Also we all know there is no reason to believe Ferrari will build the fastest car.

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      14th June 2020, 20:58

      @jureo “Max and Charles look like they are genuinly faster than Lewis”
      No they don’t. At least leclerc not. Not even close. Leclerc barely managed to beat Vettel while Ricciardo trashed Vettel.

      The problem with Verstappen is that he makes too many mistakes. People always say that Verstappen would just as easily win races when he had the fastest car. The thing is though, he doesn’t. Did he win in Mexico? In Hungary? In Monaco (3 times!)?

      In fact, Ricciardo had just as many race wins as Verstappen did. So where was Verstappen easily picking up these wins?

      1. And Ricci needed some extra years in a top car to achieve that result.

  10. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    14th June 2020, 12:21

    I’d say the future is for Verstappen & Leclerc to be battling it as champions. Most likely with Russell chasing their tails when he inevitably gets into a Mercedes. I really don’t think Sainz, Ricciardo or Bottas are going to get one. Sainz will never get the chance, Bottas has had the best opportunity already and didn’t do it and Ricciardo just doesn’t have the car.

    I do accept it’s unlikely, but I would love Albon to grab one. The romanticism of a guy being dropped, coming back, promoted halfway in his rookie year and then going on to win a world title would be fantastic.

  11. ColdFly (@)
    14th June 2020, 12:25

    The previous and next WDC depends as much on the car as on the driver.
    I don’t think that Rosberg was better than Hamilton in 2016, but neither do I think that Hamilton was the best driver in all the seasons he won the WDC.

    Currently, it is between Hamilton and Verstappen who (given equal material) will be the next WDC. I think Vettel will not return to his old best, and Leclerc needs a few more years maturing.

  12. At this point in time i don’t believe that Mercedes would remotely entertain Bottas as a WDC. This year it is a better than even chance that Hamilton will win his 7th WDC thus equalling Shumacher’s record and bringing him perilously close to setting the best ever result since the inception of F1. I may well be wrong and i’m sure lots of people will disagree with me
    and that’s cool but Mercedes would be dumb to allow anything else to happen. Mercedes are not dumb. As for anyone else winning, well it’ll all come down to the car really. I would like to see Leclerc win, although magic for me would be a Ricciardo WDC. Sadly i doubt whether the car is capable. He is though. and that’s why it’s sad that he won’t be on the front line. So, anyone except Hamilton, Verstappen or Vettel will be fine for me.

  13. Depends entirely on who has the best car and can beat his team mate. It’s naive to think otherwise. Only rarely does someone who is not in the best car become world champion. So my guess is Russell, as I think he’ll replace Hamilton and will beat Bottas. But if Mercedes stop having the best car, then either Leclerc or Verstappen or, who knows, Ricciardo if there’s a sudden McLarenaissance..

  14. I’m gonna stick my nose out and gamble on Mercedes remaining dominant and Hamilton being pipped by a team mate (but not this year). That team mate won’t be Bottas, but Russell.

  15. Max Verstappen unless RBR lets him down. I think Leclerc has to show quality driving for 2020 before I’d rate him as a future WDC. Consistency is the thing, there’s lots of current F1 drivers who are capable of winning races when everything comes together and they get it right. But can they do it race after race, then season after season like Lewis can?

  16. Neil (@neilosjames)
    14th June 2020, 13:46

    Probably one of the younger breed.

    Verstappen is the only driver I’d place in the same bracket as Hamilton at the moment. I’m not convinced he has a lot of room for improvement… but if Hamilton isn’t already starting to lose a little pace with age, he will soon. Within a couple of years Verstappen will be the best all-round driver in the field, and he’s at a team that is very capable of producing a championship-winning car now they’re less hampered by their engine. Albon looks more Mark Webber than Sebastian Vettel, so I don’t think it’ll be him.

    Leclerc looks the most likely of anyone to join the top tier, but I think right now he’d need a car advantage to beat either Hamilton or Verstappen over a season. That could happen, but I wouldn’t put money on Ferrari having the best car in 2020/2021, and they don’t have a great recent history with regulation changes. Vettel is a shadow of what he used to be, and I don’t think Sainz will ever be as good as Leclerc, so neither of them.

    Russell is still a bit of mystery, but I think he at least has the potential to be as good as Leclerc. But obviously he needs to find his way into a Mercedes first, alongside a favourable team-mate, so he’s reliant on either a retirement or a risky swap.

    Norris, Ocon – no clear route to a racewinning car, and the same for Ricciardo. Unless Mercedes drop out as a constructor and we go back to the Mc-Merc works team…

    The only 30+ driver I’d give much chance to would be Bottas. I rate him very highly and if Hamilton goes, I think he’d have a very good chance of beating whoever arrived in his place (as long as it wasn’t Verstappen). But of course, that relies on him keeping his seat, Mercedes remaining at the top, Hamilton retiring at a convenient time.

    The only one I’d even consider putting money on as the next champion would be Verstappen.

  17. Jose Lopes da Silva
    14th June 2020, 14:16

    Verstappen was a champion material since he arrived to F1, the same way all the multi-champions before him (Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Schumacher, Hakkinen, Senna) impressed since day one.

    Right now he is a multi-champion material with eyes sighting in being the GOAT if he interested in competing in F1 for the next 20 years, which he said he isn’t – although, no hazards aside, he could be driving at a Michael Schumacher level by 2040.

  18. petebaldwin (@)
    14th June 2020, 14:28

    Really this is a vote for who will be selected as Mercedes number 1 driver once Hamilton leaves. Whoever gets that position will win the title. If Mercedes drop out after Hamilton leaves, it’ll be either Leclerc or Verstappen depending on which team gets the new regulations right.

  19. Of course as we all know much will depend on the car, and for me I was quite stoked about RBR from pre-season. Ah for sure some of that is wishful thinking on behalf of Max, but still while Mercedes seemed to be yet again a dominant force, I’m quite sure RBR was very pleased with their car, and Ferrari not so much. Of course that is with keeping in mind we may not have seen everything from the top three. Mercedes might have more, so might Ferrari, and so might RBR.

    I think the next WDC after LH is going to be Max, but I just don’t know when. If Mercedes is dominant again with this car then that’s LH with the next two WDC’s as it will be the same car next year as this. If the RBR car is close then Max can definitely apply the pressure, but that will depend on how close the cars are and on what tracks.

    For the wholly new generation of cars in 2022, for me the nod goes to Max. I think the combo of a Newey car, a Honda engine in two years time, and Max in a series that will be more driver vs driver in cars that can be close to each other even in dirty air, will be formidable.

    1. Can’t argue your comments are spot on. Next WDC looks like Max but I think Charley Clerk will make the grade first.
      Maybe Ferrari will become more by Clerks magic alone

    2. @robbie will a Newey car really be worth much in an era when the aerodynamic philosophy of the cars is being so heavily regulated and the very restrictions on aerodynamic development that you have praised also mean Red Bull is likely to be one of the harder hit teams for 2022?

      1. anon Very good and valid question. The very question connotes doubt that Newey will matter as much as per your reasoning. I think it is possible that he could matter more. In spite of the curtailment of innovation that most rue, there will still be some room for innovation or the teams would not have agreed the new regs. Brawn would never want that for F1 either. Given that, I think it certainly safe to say it can’t hurt to have him on board. It sure will be fascinating to watch.

        The notion that they will be hardest hit because they are good at aero and will therefore be curtailed, forgets that they are good at aero and likely won’t be curtailed for long if at all. And of course all relative to what others will be doing.

        Of course Newey is human and there is no guarantee of success from him…he hasn’t always nailed it. But yeah I think that within the same parameters they all have to work within, my money is on an icon such as Newey. Safe bet of at least the best odds that he will take this new challenge up and genuinely relish the change in philosophy even if restricted. I do wonder if the amount of restriction is less than we perceive. Less spec than we think.

        I can also see things being tweaked once they are racing in anger in a pack and will have a true feeling for where to go next. I think if the teams ultimately felt too handcuffed, they’d squawk about it and perhaps get some reins loosened by Brawn, especially if they have in large part rid themselves of clean air dependence and just want more innovation in areas that will generate more speed, or less weight. If they show they can race closely but would like to innovate for more speed, and that won’t translate to processions or some other negative then yeah, let’s have it as long as ‘it’ makes budgetary sense for all, for the sake of sustainability.

        1. Adrian Newey is very good with groundeffect so i expect a very good car when the new rules aply

          qoute of Adrian Newey:
          My degree from Southampton gave me a competitive edge. It also filled a critical skills gap because I had just done a final project on ground-effect aerodynamics on racing cars, in which not many people in F1 had had training at that time.

          So not only aero guru but groundeffects too that is why i think he would build the best groundeffect car.

  20. I chose Carlito. Nobody is winning anything from Hamilton and Mercedes until they produce a dog. By that time i see Carlos as a consistent racer at the height of his powers. The speed of Leclerc may not be enough.

  21. Poor Bottas, sitting at only 2% despite being in the dominant team. Honestly I don’t think he’s far what Rosberg could do, although one problem for him is that Hamilton is an even more complete and consistent driver now than he was in 2016. All things considered the only season I could see him stealing a championship is 2020, because the shortened calendar dramatically increases the variance of any random results. Additionally, there’s a double header for Austria confirmed and the potential of another in Russia, which are tracks he goes well at.

    If Bottas drives like he did at the start of last season, has foolproof reliability, and Hamilton has a DNF At some point, then he’s in with a shout. Outside of this season, I think next likely WDC is Verstappen in 2022 with new regs.

    1. Jose Lopes da Silva
      14th June 2020, 21:16

      We all love good intra-team rivalries. I believe most of all like intra-team rivalries even more that fights between teams. Because we know, conspiracies apart, that both have the same equipment.

      At the time we wouldn’t say, but by now it’s obvious that the Hamilton-Rosberg 2014-16 feud will pass as one of the great moments of the history of the sport. The world changed a lot since 1989 and that’s why people spent those season complaining about Mercedes dominance while I don’t recall hearing the same about McLaren-Honda in 1988-89. They did not fight that much on track, but neither Prost and Senna; they overtook themselves just a couple of times and crashed only once in those two seasons. Hamilton and Rosberg crashed thrice, as far as I rememberg, and came close several other times. There were team orders disobediance; thrown caps; Monaco qualifying shenanigans a la Schumacher; and even turning points! To me, Rosberg started to lose it after Spa-14 and get back on top at the first corner of Melbourne-16.

      At the time I was hoping Bottas would do the same as Rosberg, but so far he didn’t. Like Webber didn’t at Red Bull, especially in 2011. It’s a shame, we needed a very strong driver in that car. I’m still hoping that he can do something this season. But I would not bet on it.

  22. I agree, Verstappen or Leclerc whomever gets the better machinery. Ferrari typically have had the edge over Red Bull in recent seasons though and testing times are notoriously unreliable. I’ll vote for Charles.

  23. F1oSaurus (@)
    14th June 2020, 21:19

    @keithcollantine “or perhaps one fewer dodgy start”
    Actually that was a technical issue too. Hamilton had perfect starts in 2014 and 2015, but Rosberg complained it didn’t work for him. So they tried to “fix” the start system so that Rosberg also could deal with it. Which turned out to be a disaster.

    Rosberg also had his fair share of start issues with it. Although he wasn’t on pole that often to show the issue I guess. And actually when Rosberg got pole that was mostly because Hamilton had an issue (China, Russia, Spa, and Hamilton crashed out in Baku). So he’d be safe even if he had some start issue and no one would notice.

    Either way Rosberg for instance did clearly lose the lead (and race) in Germany because of the same start system issue.

    He claimed that the white start line killed his start and this sounded like a rather poor excuse, but it might very well be that indeed the start system had issues with that white line during the early phase of the start.

    Perhaps in Hungaroring as well. Either way 2 out for 3 starts where Hamilton was starting from P2 and Rosberg from pole, Hamilton also got the lead right from the start.

  24. The Honey Badger

  25. – Bottas could win it this season if there’s a huge disbalance of mechanical bad luck between him and Hamilton.

    – Sergio Perez winning in 2021 wouldn’t be the craziest thing from my perspective.

  26. Max gets my vote because he is the number 1 driver at Redbull and the quickest driver on the grid in my opinion. He just needs to get more consistent and overtake cleanly. Last year he threw away potential wins/podiums at Monaco and Mexico also got very close to getting a penalty at Austria.

  27. From the options, I chose Verstappen.
    However, there’s another driver who I think could be the next champion: George Russell. If Mercedes remain dominant with the switch to the new specs, Hamilton wins another two titles and retires with 8 titles or leaves for another team, he could well be the replacement at Mercedes, maybe even arriving in Hamilton’s final year at the team.

    1. Just spotted that I could have voted for Russell, he just didn’t have a write up. Oh well. I do think if the Red Bull is close enough in performance, he’ll win any scrap for the title, definitely post-Hamilton, maybe even against Hamilton.

    2. I would imagine that’s the general plan. Place Russell with Hamilton for a year or two to understudy him. Russell has already said he has had a few tips from Ham on how to get the best out of the tyres for example.

  28. With such a dominant team as Mercedes, it’s obviously whoever will take over from Hamilton when he retires, and that’s surely going to be Verstappen.

    And even if Mercedes also were to retire, it would still be Verstappen at Red Bull.

  29. I voted Leclerc, because I’m an optimist and trying to pick a winner for the “pessimistic” scenario was giving me a headache in any case.

    With cars so dominant when it comes to titles (as opposed to wins, which are often well-contested at this point), and with how testing went, I see two possible scenarios:

    1) Optimism: Ferrari figures out why they were so slow in testing before Austria, and spends the next 18 months laughing
    2) Pessimist: They don’t and Hamilton and Mercedes take both titles. (I recognise, as I write, this is more likely).

    Red Bull is likely to gradually improve over the next 2 years, and may well be 2nd in 2021, but I don’t think they’re yet in a position to give Verstappen or Albon a consistent enough car for either to make a credible title challenge. Instead they will do what they did last time: progressive improvement until a rule change allows them to do something dramatic and go to the next tier of performance. This means Verstappen and Albon aren’t title candidates until 2022 – but are impossible to dismiss from consideration for the era that follows. (In all scenarios, Verstappen is more likely than Albon, but both should be taken seriously).

    While Bottas might improve and become a title challenger like Rosberg before him, I fear Mercedes will cease to be dominant by the time that happens – if he manages the feat. I have more confidence in Russell or Ocon being the successor, and in scenario 2), if Mercedes hires one in 2021, they’ve a decent (not certain) chance of beating Verstappen and Albon to the title, simply through having a better car with which to work.

    Racing Point won’t compete for a title until 2022 unless something really strange happens. But if the RP20 is what they produce on strictly limited resources, there’s every chance the follow-up for the new era will put them into the Mercedes/Red Bull zone. At which point, Perez becomes a title candidate too.

    Also: Ferrari might do something good in 2022.

    2022 will be very exciting, but I can’t help but hope someone finds a way to consistently challenge Mercedes prior to that.

  30. Not Bottas, Albon or Vettel for sure.

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