Where will Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc rank in Ferrari’s list of greatest-ever driver line-ups?
On paper, it’s undoubtedly an all-timer and contains the potential to lift Ferrari back to the heights it has dearly missed in recent years.
The prospect of Leclerc going up against Hamilton at F1’s most historic team initially appears as a daunting one for the Monegasque driver - but there is some protection for him in the fact that he has long been viewed as Ferrari’s golden child.
Leclerc was nurtured by its junior programme during his success-filled junior career and he was promoted to the team just one season after making his F1 debut with Sauber in 2018.
His authority within the team was stamped when he began to outperform Sebastian Vettel and progressed into the peerless team leader following the departure of the four-time World Champion to Aston Martin.
Now, Leclerc will see another F1 legend form up alongside him in 2025 when Hamilton departs Mercedes for the Italian squad.
Ferrari obtaining such a decorated driver amid an ever-lengthening difficult period will spark enthusiasm within the team. Hamilton’s achievements speak for themselves, as he has even eclipsed many of the tallies set by Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher.
Viewed by others:
Both Leclerc and Hamilton will face their own respective challenges when they pair up in one year but it also offers an opportunity for each to improve. Leclerc, seen by some as the best qualifier on the grid, will offer Hamilton a hard battle when it comes to one-lap pace.
While known for many strengths, Hamilton rarely makes a detrimental on-track error - an area that Leclerc has struggled with throughout his career.
Leclerc will have to adjust to Hamilton’s status within the team, which will be unquestioned. Luring the sport’s most successful driver who is still performing at an elite level, Hamilton’s demands will be honoured as Ferrari looks to embed the Briton into its own history.
It places Leclerc in a unique position - will he be cast to the side and no longer looked upon as the primary driver to contend for a title? While being the more experienced driver within Ferrari itself, Hamilton brings a resumé that no other driver on the grid can match.
Ferrari’s continued support for Leclerc will not soon be forgotten as the duo share a strong loyalty to one another.
Only a matter of weeks ago, Leclerc’s long-term commitment to Ferrari was confirmed and it’s likely that he will still have a role to play beyond Hamilton’s eventual departure.
While Ferrari has been building towards success with Leclerc for some time, not jumping on the chance to sign Hamilton would have been a greatly missed opportunity and it’s one of the few moves it could have made to improve its driver line-up.
Although Hamilton’s new deal has been described as a “multi-year” contract, the Briton will be 40 years of age when he gets behind the Ferrari cockpit. It may well be the situation that Hamilton has penned his last deal before bowing out of F1.
Leclerc will have to adjust to Hamilton’s status within the team, which will be unquestioned.
Battling for supremacy
A key advantage that Leclerc holds in his arsenal is already being embedded within the Ferrari group, knowing its operations and how to work with his team. Although he is vastly experienced, Hamilton will start in a role with entirely new people and will have to build relationships from their foundations.
The head-to-head battle between the pair will be fascinating to watch. Hamilton will face his toughest intra-team fight for some time, while it will likely be one of the biggest challenges Leclerc will face in his entire career.
Leclerc will be keen to showcase that Ferrari is still his team and convey that Hamilton’s arrival hasn’t distracted his focus on winning a title with the squad.
But there will be no shame in being out-paced by Hamilton and it’s the luxury that comes with having such an established team-mate. It creates a buffer that Leclerc can play into if needs be by going up against a driver of such a high calibre.
Of course, Leclerc will have no interest in settling for anything other than getting the better of Hamilton and proving that he’s still Ferrari’s main weapon.
But the 26-year-old needn’t worry about his own position within the outfit - Hamilton’s arrival will bring more benefits than detriments and if he navigates the relationship properly, Leclerc will emerge from the other side polished rather than broken.