Hamilton empathises with Leclerc


When Lewis Hamilton came into F1 in 2007 it was widely expected that he would be good, but not how good.

From the outset it was clear the sport had a new champion on its hands, teammate Fernando Alonso taking it particularly badly. Indeed, the two-time world champion, fearing the team (McLaren) was favouring the newcomer, took matters into his own hands, the rest is history.

Consequently, as Charles Leclerc gets his feet further and further under the table at Ferrari, Hamilton can understand the youngster's position.

"For sure, I think he's a bit younger than I was by a year or two," Hamilton told reporters in Baku is he could see similarities between the Monegasque's situation and that of his own in his rookie season at McLaren alongside a multiple world championship winner.

"I remember wanting to get to Formula One as soon as possible and then when I got there I wanted to win as soon as possible and I wanted to beat the champion that I was racing against," he continued.

"So it's very, very similar," he admitted, "I see much of myself in Charles. He's doing a great job so far with really high expectations at a huge team like Ferrari, but he's driving so well so he just has to keep doing what he's doing. It will come to him."

While Leclerc is still smarting from the team orders that have played a part in all three races thus far, Hamilton admits that he understands the frustration.

"My philosophy as a racing driver has always been I want equal opportunity with whoever I'm racing, so I can truly show my ability," he said. "I got to Formula One and how these teams are often set up, when you have a couple of scenarios where you've had multiple world champions who demand number one positions and therefore you become a number two and a supporting role.

"While that's a privileged position to be in it goes against your core values, because you're a racing driver at heart. That's why I can understand how Charles feels, because in his heart he believes he's the best, or has the potential to be the best. It's almost like having your light dimmed. So as a competitor, as a racer, you naturally kind of rebel, they say to do one thing but the fight in your wants to go the other way."

Asked about how Ferrari has handled the situation thus far, he admitted: "It's not my decision to make. I don't know.

"I don't have to run the team and I don't have to make decisions so it doesn't make any difference to me. I'm fighting against both of them."

Check out our Thursday gallery from Baku, here.

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Published: 25/04/2019
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