Sky F1’s Martin Brundle believes Charles Leclerc is the fastest driver over one lap in Formula 1, but warns “never write off Lewis Hamilton” as they prepare to become Ferrari team-mates from 2025.
For so long a ‘what if’ dream move, now Hamilton racing for Ferrari will become a reality, the seven-time World Champion preparing for one final season with Mercedes before he makes that shock move to Maranello.
Carlos Sainz is the driver left out in the cold to make space for Hamilton, who will find Leclerc on the other side of the garage as his Ferrari team-mate.
Martin Brundle warns ‘never write-off Lewis Hamilton’
Recent years have been tricky for Hamilton, who has not claimed a victory since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, his Mercedes team having struggled to find an answer for the dominant Red Bull team.
But, while Brundle does not expect the task to be easy against Leclerc, the driver he regards as the outright fastest Formula 1 has, he is clear that to “write-off Lewis Hamilton” would be a major error.
“Leclerc I think is potentially, on an outright qualifying lap, the fastest driver out there at the moment, even including Max Verstappen,” Brundle told Sky Sports News.
“He’s blindingly fast, tends to run into a few things he didn’t ought to from time to time and fly off the road, Charles, because he just drives so near the limit.
“But it’s a wonderful combination and let’s not disregard what a great driver Carlos Sainz is as well, who’s in the Ferrari for the coming season, and presumably he’s got to have a chance to go to Mercedes or some other teams on the grid.
“But never write off Lewis Hamilton. We know he knows how to win races and championships and it’ll be very Schumacher-esque if he can go there and really drive the team to start winning a lot more races and be championship contenders.”
Ferrari are the most successful team in Formula 1 history, though find themselves on a major baron spell having not tasted title success since 2008.
Put to him that Ferrari are like the “Manchester United of Formula 1” in reference to a trophy-filled history with limited recent success, Brundle hopes F1 2024 will start a trend of the pack closing up ahead of Hamilton’s arrival, with Verstappen heading into the new season as overwhelming favourite to make it four World titles in a row.
Asked if Ferrari can be competitive in 2025, or whether the new chassis and power unit regulations from 2026 are needed, Brundle replied: “I hope the pack closes up a lot this year.
“We need it to give Verstappen and Red Bull more of a run for their money.
“When you’ve got static regulations, as we have for ’24, ’25, it tends to close the pack anyway. Law of diminishing returns, how much better can you make a great car? Cars that are not working so well improve, copy, learn or what have you.
“So it will be tight in the next two seasons. But then honestly, 2026, completely new cars again, throw it all up in the air, who knows.”
Hamilton is set to be with Ferrari for the new regulatory era, his contract with the team described as a ‘multi-year’ deal.