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Charles Leclerc

What Hamilton's move means for Ferrari's 'golden boy'

Lewis Hamilton's move to Ferrari is potentially a pressurising moment for Charles Leclerc but an opportunity for Carlos Sainz, according to Sky F1 presenter Simon Lazenby.

Hamilton Leclerc Zandvoort
To news overview © XPBimages

Lewis Hamilton announcing his titanic 2025 Ferrari switch at the start of February stunned the F1 world, which for a brief second came to an abrupt halt. A couple of weeks have now past since the announcement was made, with the "dust" having just about settled.

Nobody thought Hamilton would ever leave Mercedes, especially after he signed a two-year extension last August; however, an exit clause in the contract has allowed him to sign a multi-year deal at Ferrari to partner Charles Leclerc next year.

A driver change of this magnitude doesn't happen easily, with Sky F1 presenter Simon Lazenby having started to consider the "repercussions" of Hamilton's unbelievable move. The first question is, what does Hamilton's arrival mean for Leclerc?

Since being promoted from Sauber to Ferrari in 2019, the Monegasque has been viewed as the Maranello-based outfit's "golden boy" and as their "de facto leader" since Sebastian Vettel departed the Italians at the conclusion of the 2020 season.

Considering that Hamilton is a seven-time World Champion and statistically the greatest F1 driver of all-time, how will Leclerc continue to lead Ferrari? Lazenby ponders whether Hamilton's arrival will put pressure on the 26-year-old and actually act as a big opportunity for Sainz.

Sainz knows he currently has no seat for 2025 and needs a stellar season this year to get one of the big spots available – Red Bull and Mercedes both have a spare seat as things stand. If he can start piling the pressure on Leclerc now, this could be his best bet at joining another leading team.

Lazenby also sees Hamilton's departure from Mercedes as a significant moment for George Russell, who needs to prove that he can lead the Silver Arrows in 2024 as this will impact who Team Principal Toto Wolff signs as his new teammate.

Sainz can 'flip' situation

"I think the dust has settled now, hasn't it?" Lazenby asked on the Sky F1 podcast. "And then you start thinking what the repercussions are for everybody else, and that's what you get with a move like this, which none of us were predicting.

He added: "None of us saw it coming, and that's the beauty of it, that it caught us all off guard. And I think already it started to ask questions of what might happen, the pressure it kind of puts on Charles Leclerc.

"Because he was the de facto leader, and he's the golden boy and has been the golden boy for a number of years. All of a sudden, you've now got this spectre of Lewis about to arrive.

"So can Carlos actually flip this situation on its head? Put pressure early on Charles Leclerc, outshine him and then put himself in that shop window for others. I mean, I wonder if he may even consider going back to Red Bull.

"And what for George now? I think Mercedes and for him, they have a really important first half of the season. If he can go toe-to-toe with Lewis and establish himself as a true number one, maybe they just take a risk on Kimi Antonelli. If he doesn't, does that bring Fernando Alonso more into play?"

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