F1 insiders predict trouble ahead for Leclerc

Mon, 19 February 2024, 09:00

Feb.19 (GMM) Charles Leclerc has many reasons to worry about the impending arrival of Lewis Hamilton as his teammate at Ferrari for 2025 and beyond.

That is the view not only of Red Bull’s top Austrian consultant Dr Helmut Marko but also F1 legend and fellow Austrian Gerhard Berger.

Seven time world champion Hamilton’s obvious speed aside, they think the 39-year-old is also so experienced, astute and influential that he will get the political upper-hand at Ferrari.

“This is the best thing that could have happened to F1 at this time,” Marko is quoted as having told the Spanish sports daily Marca.

“There are two reasons for this – the fascination that Lewis feels for Ferrari, and that Hamilton no longer trusts Mercedes,” he added.

“And there are two things that Hamilton cannot accept,” Marko continued. “The first is that he is no longer the one who wins world championships, and also that it will not be easy for him to become champion again.

“But leaving aside the sporting aspect, Hamilton is not at all happy with having stopped being the driver with the best salary on the grid,” he said. “And the one who earns the most now is Hamilton.

“This fact can change with the help of Ferrari.”

And with that new power at Ferrari, Marko thinks troubled times are ahead for Leclerc. “Lewis will impose himself on Charles politically as Ferrari’s global superstar,” Marko predicts.

Berger agrees that Ferrari, led by Hamilton’s long-time colleague and friend Frederic Vasseur, has recognised that it needs a figure like Hamilton to “start a new phase” for the Italian marque.

“Lewis is not only one of the best drivers in the history of Formula 1,” Berger told La Gazzetta dello Sport, “he is also extremely effective in terms of marketing.

“The Ferrari brand and the Hamilton brand, joining forces, will form a combination that is extremely attractive to fans,” said the former Ferrari driver.

“He will be paid a lot of money and be truly loved,” Berger continued. “First of all, Ferrari needs his experience. He has won more than 100 grands prix. Victories are a common thing for him.

“He also knows how to motivate a team for that and how to deal with politically complex situations. In addition, some technical specialists from other teams may follow Lewis to Maranello, so a new successful cycle may begin in the history of Ferrari, as was already the case with Michael Schumacher.”

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