Verstappen or Leclerc? Hamilton or Alonso?

Jon Wilde
Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, British Grand Prix podium

Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, British Grand Prix podium

Was Sebastian Vettel right to say Charles Leclerc is potentially Formula 1’s “biggest star for the future, maybe more than Max Verstappen”?

Planet F1 readers have been discussing the former World Champion’s comments, comparing the attributes of two young guns who could end up vying to be the sport’s leading name once Lewis Hamilton steps aside.

Meanwhile, the debate about whether it’s ‘Hamilton or the car’ has continued, and there’s also a vote for Fernando Alonso as the greatest driver of this era.

You can keep the [civil] conversation going in the comments section below. Feel free to get anything else F1-related off your chest as well and we may feature your thoughts in a future edition of our mailbox.

Who’s the successor to the throne?

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc wouldn't turn down Mercedes says George Russell.

Barrington Shaw: Charles is much more mature than Max and will be more appealing to the fans. Max is regarded as one of the best on the grid by many and as we saw on Sunday he is far from the finished article. So what will Max be like if he becomes more rounded? Both guys are future greats. One has destroyed a 4XWDC in same machinery the other chased out of Red Bull the previous driver to beat the 4XWDC in same machinery. Can’t call it between these two.

Mistery: No doubt Leclerc is a future star, but I think he has still a way to go. Max showed he could beat Leclerc in a slower RBR last year. But the future could look great. Just hope no team will dominate.

Steve Michael: Charles has all the tools to become a great champion in F1. He just needs a good enough car and team around him, like all great champions! Charles has incredible speed and good race craft, he has an excellent temperament and takes responsibility for his actions. Sure he ran wide and lost a couple of places at the last few corners this weekend but he did better than most on a very tricky slippery track. It is a forgivable mistake and quite irrelevant really in the long run. A good learning experience for the future, when he is fighting for a world championship! Biggest difference between Charles and Max is not the speed but the mentality and maturity. Also the respect factor. I feel Charles has great maturity and respect for others, while Max completely lacks these qualities. As such Charles is simply a champion in waiting I believe. When he gets a good enough package, he will deliver!

Hamilton or Alonso?

Fernando Alonso on Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari, Schumi's record

Ayrton Senna: Hamilton is not the greatest of this era at all. The Mercedes is. If anyone is the greatest it’s Alonso. If statistics is all that defines greatness, then it’s a pointless title to dish out. When you are driving the best car by miles, with a wingman team mate, so effectively you have no competition, then of course you will dominate and rack up a lot of statistics. Especially when you have a driver like Hamilton in that scenario.

Steve Michael: Very wide words from Seb. And I fully agree with him. Very difficult to compare different eras due to the different cars and regulations. However the modern day F1 cars are the fastest cars ever made for sure. Leagues faster than anything from decades past. Lewis once again showed this weekend his immense talent. His records are quite incredible.

ALostAge: Alonso one of the greats of this era but he is no Hamilton – Alonso losing it over Lewis adds to this fact. Alonso turned into a bit Prost in later years, a bit of a predator quick to find mistakes to exploit on track. Great driver yes, greatest of this era no. Sure if he was driving the current Mercedes yes he prob would of won more WDC’s but there is a certain raw racing talent in Lewis not seen since Senna imo.

Hamilton or the car?

Martin Brundle selects Sir Lewis Hamilton's victory in Turkey as 2020 season highlight.

Arno Ramirez: Guy was nowhere without that car though. Barely beating a Massa by a single point thanks to Glock. Got beaten by Button and Rosberg too. Stomping dominantly now after having a substandard teammate. His comments into himself shows the insecurity. He knows deep inside…it’s just the car.

Put a real fast and competent driver on that other seat and see how he performs. Last time out a guy named Rosberg beat him to it. Or is it the car?

Trent To: 2017 and 2018 saw a half assed challenge from vettel and that was enough to overcome him but whenever the car is good he sails away despite being average.

I do not believe you can judge a drivers greatness by what they do in a dominant car. Schumacher was at his best in the 96 ferrari, alonso was at his best in the 2012 ferrari, Senna was at his best in the tolman. These are all seasons we point to show how good a driver is.

Potato: The worst car Lewis has driven was the 09 mclaren and it took him one race to start cheating cause he couldn’t handle it and he had no decent results until the car found some pace and the brawn dropped back and that is what I judge him on as to whether he he is a great or merely good.

Trent To: But Hamilton also lost to Rosberg and Button. Surely we cannot say those 2 are better than Alonso? Hungary was actually the climax of that negative treatment of Alonso. The preferable treatment for Alonso ended much earlier.

Kris B: I don’t give two hoots about those years, it is his 6 titles at Mercedes that is relevant. He’s had Rosberg and Bottas as a team mate, not exactly in anyones top 10 list are they? But it seems people just choose to be intentionally obtuse when it involves Hamilton. Look, I’m not saying he isn’t a, or the, GOAT, I’m not saying he is rubbish, I am just saying that without a proper yard stick to measure against for those 6 word titles, it is difficult to measure just how great. Is it just enough to be greater than the others? is he leaps and bounds ahead, or is he only as good as someone else, or others on the grid, in exactly the same equipment, I mean come on, other drivers have been saying this in the last couple of weeks as well, this shouldn’t be anything new to understand. Its not difficult to understand either, even F1 fans know that car is dominant, how can an F1 fan not get it? I find that a little absurd.

We can’t fully understand how much is the car and how much was Lewis. I appreciate he won in 2008, early on, hats off to him. but he then had a slump, it took him another 6 years to win, in a car so far ahead of everyone else all he had to do was beat Rosberg, who up to this point, had hardly proven himself to be an intimidating force, and then Bottas, 3 and then 5th in his first two years at Mercedes, letting other teams beat him when he was in the best car (second best if you count Lewis’s). Bottas was hardly a challenger and Lewis has only had to do just enough to beat Bottas to win, not anyone else.

Raimi79: I agree it’s a combination of the car and driver – ever has it been thus. But since I started watching F1 people have always been pushing the ‘it’s the car’ narrative, this isn’t something new to Lewis. It happened when Williams were dominant, with Ferrari, and with Redbull in the past.

As for why team mates don’t have the other half of the titles, that’s simple, it makes sense to have a number one driver and prioritize him and develop the car towards him. You don’t want two competitive drivers if you’re at the top as it just risks crashing, mistakes, splitting points in the driver championship and giving the third place guy a chance.

As for Lewis, the one big thing is he’ll generally always get the best out of a bad car, where as other drivers will struggle if the set up isn’t perfect for them. And let’s face it, since 2014 he’s not had a bad car. What I’d love to see is him go to Ferrari or Redbull and have a crack at a title there, not that he has any real incentive to do that.

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