Why Ferrari are ‘praying’ for Lewis Hamilton versus Nico Rosberg-esque problem

Jamie Woodhouse

Leading Italian correspondent Roberto Chinchero said Ferrari are in a sense “praying” for a Lewis Hamilton versus Nico Rosberg repeat in Hamilton vs Charles Leclerc, as it would mean a lot of their car “problems now are fixed”.

In a move very few saw coming, Hamilton has activated an exit clause in his Mercedes contract only signed last summer in order to join Ferrari from 2025.

That means Hamilton has one final season ahead with Mercedes, the team with which he has won six of his seven World Championships, before the Ferrari chapter of his career begins where he will be team-mate to Charles Leclerc.

Lewis Hamilton vs Nico Rosberg repeat would mean title-challenging Ferrari

Leclerc signed a new deal of undisclosed length with Ferrari shortly before confirmation of Hamilton’s impending arrival, making the future dynamic between that duo rather intriguing as Leclerc was regarded as the Ferrari golden boy and leading figure towards future title success. Hamilton’s arrival of course muddies that path.

Mercedes know what it is like to have a pair of title-hungry alpha males, Hamilton and Rosberg going from friends to bitter rivals once Mercedes ascended to become F1’s dominant force from 2014, a scenario which Ferrari surely will want to avoid with Hamilton and Leclerc?

Well, though Chinchero does not see relations deteriorating to that level, on the other hand, Ferrari will be “praying to have this kind of problem” as it would mean they have gone from watching the current dominant force Red Bull hoovering up the wins, to doing so themselves.

Speaking to Sky Sports about the potential Hamilton vs Leclerc dynamic, Chinchero said: “It’s potentially a problem, but I think probably for Ferrari, it will be a good problem to have.

“I cannot imagine Leclerc and Lewis fighting for a third place or fourth place. Potentially the problem can arrive the day Ferrari has the car to compete for the World Championship.

“What happened in the past between Lewis and Nico – in 2013, Nico and Lewis were good friends. I remember an interview when Nico said, ‘Oh Lewis is coming to eat a pizza at my apartment in Monaco’. That’s because the car was good for two, three, four wins a season, so there was no material for fighting.

“Of course, when in 2014 the scenario completely changed, and the story was Lewis against Nico, then that completely changed everything.

“So from some point of view, I think in Maranello people are praying to have this kind of problem because in that case, it means that a lot of problems that you have now are fixed.

“So in the short-term, I’m not expecting problems. At the same time, I think that it’s a good chance for Charles. Every time you are with a very big champion you have something to learn. And I think Charles learned a lot from Sebastian [Vettel], and I think that it’s a good chance also with Lewis.”

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While lacking a challenger capable of fighting for World titles in his Ferrari tenure, Leclerc has become something of a one-lap specialist, which has led ex-F1 driver turned Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle to refer to him as the fastest outright driver on the grid.

Chinchero concurs that Leclerc’s one-lap performance may be too much for Hamilton, but when it comes to race day, then Hamilton has “a good weapon in his pocket”.

“I’m expecting Charles to be a little bit faster in qualifying, but we know that Lewis has tremendous race vision, so that should be a good weapon in his pocket,” Chinchero predicted.

The collateral damage in all of this is Carlos Sainz, the only non-Red Bull Grand Prix winner of 2023, who is now on the lookout for a new home come 2025.

Read next: ‘Fernando Alonso would settle for a short-term deal to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes’