Le Mans winner and driver coach Matt Howson told the On Track GP Podcast about the connection he has to multiple drivers on the current Formula 1 grid, having coached several of them through their days in Formula Renault.
Howson, who counts himself as Lewis Hamilton’s first ever team-mate in car racing, going alongside him in the same series back in 2001, coached the likes of Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Lando Norris when they made the step up from karting, and has been able to assess their natural talent first-hand.
He went into detail about the “alien” talent these drivers in particular possessed, even at a young age, and was put on the spot about who he feels will eventually end up with the most titles come the end of their Formula 1 careers.
Matt Howson joins On Track GP Podcast for intriguing conversation
Howson, who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the LMP2 class alongside On Track GP regular Richard Bradley, joined the podcast to discuss his career to date, as well as how he has helped drivers of the future develop.
Having worked with several top class drivers as they make the step up into car racing, with Formula Renault often being the entry-level series, their talent often needs refining = which is where the coaching element of his role comes into play.
Leclerc, Norris and Russell all count themselves among the top young talents in Formula 1 at the moment – with Leclerc and Russell holding a rare distinction, along with Oscar Piastri, in having won the F3/GP3 and F2/GP2 titles in back-to-back years, in their rookie seasons.
After being put on the spot about who he thinks will end up with the most titles, he believes all three drivers are extremely closely matched, and how their careers turn out could be down to the career moves they end up making – though he predicts there’s more to come from Leclerc in particular.
“I mean, obviously in Formula 1 it’s going to depend on circumstance,” Howson elaborated on the latest edition of the On Track GP Podcast, produced in collaboration between PlanetF1.com and DR Sports.
“Charles being with Ferrari, if he stays with Ferrari, I think he’s the one that still hasn’t shown exactly what he can do.
“Carlos [Sainz] has obviously been really strong this year, but I think from what everyone has seen of Charles in the junior formulae, he has got that unbelievable gift and talent that when things all start to click, then I think he’s going to be unstoppable.
“George, being in Mercedes, they haven’t got the best car right now, but it will improve – they will. They’re a juggernaut. They will come back.
“And the way George is kind of taking Lewis on at the moment, which suggests that you know, he’s also he was a guy also turned up in Bahrain [Sakhir 2020], first race, nearly won it – [it’s] alien, just shouldn’t happen, but it did.
“McLaren as well, I just don’t know if McLaren can take those two on. Lando is capable of it, it’s very clear that I think all three of those drivers are on the same level but the opportunity is going to be there for Charles or George.
“My gut feeling is always going to be Mercedes, so I think George can probably be the one to win the most championships, I think I’m going to say that, but any of the three of them in terms of pure level? They’re very hard to separate.”
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