The ‘super, super quick’ Mercedes driver Charles Leclerc would choose to partner

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton having a chat. Bahrain February 2023

Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton having a chat. Bahrain February 2023

As Lewis Hamilton’s contract situation rumbles on, F1 pundit Peter Windsor reckons if Charles Leclerc had a choice, he’d rather join the seven-time World Champion at Mercedes and have George Russell take his Ferrari seat.

Throughout the first part of this year’s championship rumours have done the rounds suggesting a straight swap between Hamilton and Leclerc for next season with neither driver all that impressed with their teams’ performances.

But with Mercedes hitting their stride in their B-spec W14, Hamilton second in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix where he crossed the line ahead of his team-mate Russell, the Briton is now being tipped to sign with his current team – and do so in the coming days, if not hours.

Hamilton had said after the Barcelona race that he would be meeting team boss Toto Wolff this week with the Austrian adding that he reckons they can get a new deal signed off in a half-an-hour sit-down.

When the confirmation of the new deal eventually comes, it will put an end to the Hamilton to Ferrari rumours although that’s not to say Leclerc couldn’t head to Mercedes in the years to come to link up with the seven-time World Champion.

Windsor says given the option, Leclerc would rather have Hamilton as his team-mate at Mercedes than Russell.

He explained why on his YouTube channel: “I think George has slightly more edge to his driving just a little bit more but Lewis has got softer, rounder transitions compared with George therefore everything has to be pretty right for George to be as brilliantly quick as he is.

“But I think if there’s some sort of issue with the tyres, whether it be tyres are gaining or going off or whatever it is, then you’re going to see Lewis or a Charles with a softer touch being able to have a wider sweet spot of driving.

“But it’s going to be very close.

“George is super, super quick and it’s a big thing for Charles Leclerc to go to Mercedes, if he goes, to put himself up against George Russell.

“If you said to Charles right now, if he was here and you having dinner tonight privately, ‘who would you rather have in the other Merc if you’re gonna go – George or Lewis?’

“He’d say ‘oh Lewis’. recommends

Nico Rosberg was forced to give his F1 World title over to Lewis Hamilton

George Russell blasted for ‘unforgivable’ Lewis Hamilton collision

“George is a serious player. But he’s got slightly less margin for error and I think he drives like Ayrton [Senna] actually apart from the throttle business, he’s right on the edge. But there’s no margin really with George.

“There’s no margin with any of them, except that when something goes slightly wrong a driver who’s a manipulative, softer input driver has got a little bit more of an area in which to play whereas George doesn’t leave much, and he’s very quick.

“So yeah, it would be a big problem for Charles to beat George at Mercedes. I’d be surprised if he does actually because George knows the team, he knows the whole thing, so as good as Charles is, I don’t believe he would out-perform George.

“And if they got a championship-winning car, and it was George and Leclerc, I’d put my money on George – in year one.”

Windsor believes a move to Mercedes would be good for the Monégasque driver as he could put Ferrari and everything that comes with it – “emotionally, politically, socially” – behind him.

“I think for Charles he’d love to be in a Red Bull but if he can’t be in a Red Bull, I think it’s better for him to be with Mercedes then with Ferrari because he’s had so much stuff going on at Ferrari over the years – emotionally, politically, socially – that I think he would love it at Mercedes which is a much more clinical team from his point of view,” he said on his YouTube channel.

And if it turned out to be Leclerc and Russell rather than Leclerc and Hamilton, he says “it would be from Mercedes’ point of view a very good team. I don’t think they’d be losing that much if they had Leclerc-Russell compared with Hamilton-Russell. I think Charles is that good.”

However, it seems the five-time grand prix winner is going to have to wait at least a year if not more for a possible move to Mercedes with Hamilton expected to sign a one-year deal with an option for 2025 while understands Russell has already committed his long-term future to Mercedes.