Lewis Hamilton has praised the way in which Charles Leclerc has stepped up to become a “leader” at Ferrari.
Leclerc was the man chosen to be the face of Ferrari’s Formula 1 ambitions for the 2020s, quickly asserting himself against senior team-mate Sebastian Vettel when he joined the team in 2019 and winning two races that year.
The following season had not even commenced due to the pandemic when it was announced Vettel would leave Ferrari at the end of that campaign, Leclerc clearly selected as the spearhead and to be joined by Carlos Sainz for 2021.
It turned out 2020 was the Scuderia’s worst year for a long time, finishing only sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, but this term they have bounced back and are vying with McLaren for third place.
Sainz has proven to be a more-than-able support act to Leclerc, contributing 122.5 of the team’s 250.5 points total so far, but it was the Monegasque racer who was recently the subject of encouraging words from Hamilton.
“It’s great to see how Charles has grown, he’s become a leader in a phenomenal team,” the seven-time World Champion told reporters.
“Of course, they have had a difficult period but they are getting stronger. They are getting faster again and climbing up the rankings. Slowly they are catching up with the front teams.”
Hamilton is, of course, involved in a titanic World Championship struggle with a driver in Max Verstappen who, at the age of 24, is only 16 days older than Leclerc.
Just as the Dutchman has elevated himself to a level this year where he looks entirely comfortable being embroiled in a classic title battle, Hamilton expects Leclerc to continue his progression too.
“He’s still so young, he’s on a wonderful journey and he has the class to grow even further and become even stronger,” added the 36-year-old Mercedes driver.
“Early on in his career he has shown his potential. His team is only going to progress and he is growing with it. I’m looking forward to the future when hopefully we will be racing together more.”
Planet F1 verdict