The news of Hamilton’s departure from Mercedes to join Ferrari sent shockwaves through the Formula One community. This move ends his 13-year association with Mercedes, despite previous assertions that he would conclude his career with the team and continue as a lifelong brand ambassador.
Carlos Sainz has announced he will step aside for Hamilton after the next season, paving the way for Hamilton to team up with Leclerc, the seven-time world champion, at Ferrari.
Coulthard has voiced that Leclerc, 26, will be Hamilton’s “greatest test” upon his arrival at Ferrari. He has expressed his astonishment at Hamilton’s decision to leave Mercedes, a partnership that began when Hamilton was just 12 years old.
Speaking to Planet F1, Coulthard said, “I was taken aback by Hamilton’s decision to leave the successful partnership with Mercedes. However, his move to Ferrari is a thrilling development for Formula 1, signifying a major boost for the team in attracting top engineering talent and highlighting the arrival of an exceptional driver.”
He continued, “Leclerc, in my opinion, will pose the most significant challenge to Hamilton. Charles is an exceptionally fast and young driver. While he may not have the World Championships or the experience that Lewis has, I see him as a future champion, and that could very well be where Lewis meets his match.”
Coulthard also praised Leclerc’s speed, especially over a single lap, suggesting he’s among the quickest.
In recent years, Hamilton has found himself outside the championship race, with Max Verstappen of Red Bull securing his third consecutive world title in October, further cementing his status in the sport.
Martin Brundle, speaking to Sky Sports, echoed Coulthard’s sentiments regarding the challenge Leclerc could pose to Hamilton. Brundle remarked, “On pure qualifying speed, Leclerc could very well be the fastest driver currently, even surpassing Max Verstappen. His incredible pace often pushes him to the edge, occasionally leading to mistakes, but it’s his aggressive driving style that truly sets him apart.”