Charles Leclerc reveals his true thoughts on Hamilton v Verstappen battles

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton chatting to Charles Leclerc at a press conference at the 2023 British Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton chatting to Charles Leclerc.

Max Verstappen has an “aggressive” style of racing while Lewis Hamilton is “smart” with his driving and will line you up for a “simpler” pass later in the lap, that’s according to their Ferrari rival Charles Leclerc.

Leclerc has raced wheel-to-wheel with Verstappen and Hamilton with the Monégasque driver overtaking Verstappen three times on his way to the victory at last year’s Austrian Grand Prix, a change of fortune to their 2019 battle at the same circuit.

As for Hamilton, his fights with the Mercedes driver have been a lot more sedate with Hamilton praising his ability after they went through Copse together at least season’s British Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc: They have completely different driving styles

Those are just a few of the moments that Leclerc has found himself racing against Verstappen or Hamilton, two drivers who he says have very different styles.

“Both have completely different driving styles,” he told Corriere dello Sport. “Max always goes to the limit of the regulation, I like his approach. He is aggressive and puts up spectacular fights.

“Lewis, on the other hand, is very smart. The way he positions the car around a bend, for example. He is less aggressive but he thinks more. If he doesn’t overtake you at one point it’s because he’s thinking of another, simpler one in which to attack.”

With just five wins to his tally compared to Verstappen’s 44 and Hamilton’s 103, Leclerc has yet to enjoy the same success as his rivals. While for seven years it was Mercedes who dominated Formula 1, the sport is now in the midst of the Verstappen-Red Bull era.

With 11 wins on the trot this season, nine alone for Verstappen, Red Bull are on course for a 22-0 whitewash with very few signs, if any at all, that their rivals could halt their charge.

Leclerc, however, is adamant they can as history has proven Verstappen is beatable.

“He can be beaten, we have already done it. It’s up to us to roll up our sleeves to get him and Red Bull back,” he declared. recommends

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But as he fights that good fight with Ferrari, the five-time grand prix winner continues to be linked to a move to Mercedes with Leclerc said to be the team’s number one pick to replace Hamilton when he eventually retires.

Asked about that, Leclerc replied: “It certainly means that I do my job well. But these rumours leave me indifferent, because I know what I want.

“But I still don’t know what Ferrari wants from me. The contract discussions haven’t started yet, but for me everything is clear.”

His team-mate Carlos Sainz has also been linked to a rival team, Sauber who will become Audi in 2026.

Asked if he could have any driver next to him, who would it be, he quickly replied: “Stop. I’m not answering that question. It would take a wrong turn. With Carlos, we work well, even though there is a lot of competition between us.”

Read next: Ferrari provide contract updates on both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz