Martin Brundle has proclaimed Charles Leclerc to be the fastest Formula 1 driver over one lap, yet declined to discount Lewis Hamilton’s prospects of outshining his forthcoming Ferrari teammate.
At 40 years old, Hamilton will embark on a new phase of his illustrious F1 career next year upon completing his transfer to Maranello.
He will supplant Carlos Sainz and contend with Leclerc, who recently penned a fresh Ferrari contract.
It’s evident that neither of them will settle for second-fiddle status.
Leclerc has been the linchpin around which the Ferrari team has revolved since his arrival, while the seven-time world champion Hamilton will pursue an eighth crown before hanging up his helmet.
However, achieving that feat may prove challenging.
Firstly, Hamilton is banking on Ferrari’s ability to furnish him with a car capable of vying for the title against Red Bull and Mercedes. Furthermore, this must happen while he remains at the pinnacle of his abilities.
Charles Leclerc fires a clear warning to Lewis Hamilton as Ferrari star is backed to “be faster”
Even if the Italians manage to fulfil these expectations, Hamilton will face a formidable competitor within his own team.
In conversation with Sky Sports, former F1 driver Brundle asserts that neither of them is guaranteed to be markedly superior to the other.
He remarked: “Leclerc I think is potentially, on an outright qualifying lap, the fastest driver out there at the moment, even including Max Verstappen.
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.
Presumably he’s got to have a chance to go to Mercedes or some other teams on the grid.”
Addressing a sponsor event this week, Leclerc refrained from mentioning Hamilton by name but made it explicit that he refuses to play second fiddle to any teammate.
He stated: “To win the championship, this is the only target I have. I’m only happy when I win, second place is not my target.
“You need to give yourself realistic targets as well, as much as we are always optimistic and try to do the best job possible.
“We all want to win but looking at where we are starting from from last year, Red Bull had a big advantage. So now we need to close the gap as much as possible.
“We will do absolutely everything to try and, and do the step that, that is our goal in order to challenge.”