Even though Sebastian Vettel started this season as Ferrari’s “priority” driver, Leclerc went on to out-qualify his teammate at the last nine Grand Prix, while also claiming back-to-back victories in Belgium and Italy.
So from the outside looking in, it appears as though Ferrari might be favoring Leclerc – something that reigning Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has also noticed, claiming that Vettel has clearly lost his spot as team leader, as reported by Autosport.
“It’s an interesting dynamic they have there, because obviously Seb was number one, and [he’s] now clearly not,” stated Hamilton. “From the energy from the outlook, [Ferrari is] trying to ramp Charles up to be [number one].”
“Is that good for a team? I don’t think so. But that’s the philosophy they’ve had forever.”
The Mercedes driver also clarified that these observations had nothing to do with what happened in Russia and that he understood why Ferrari decided to have Leclerc give Vettel a tow during the start of the race.
When asked if he could relate to Vettel’s predicament seen as how he also came in as a rookie for McLaren back in 2007 with Fernando Alonso as a teammate, Hamilton had this to say: “Again, it’s an assumption, because we’re looking from the outside, so I don’t know what’s happening inside, I don’t know what Seb’s feeling, so it’s difficult to say I can relate to it.”
“When I was with Fernando, he was the hired number one, but then mid-season they gave us equal fuel [for qualifying] and then you started seeing change. That dynamic shifted, and it obviously didn’t go well for the team.”