Lewis Hamilton knows exactly how Charles Leclerc is feeling at Ferrari as the Monegasque’s frustrations remind him of the forces he was up against in his debut season with McLaren in 2007.
When Hamilton entered F1 with the Woking-based outfit, he was tough competition from the outset for experienced team mate Fernando Alonso.
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But when the Brit was denied a chance to shine at Monaco and clinch his maiden win in F1 because of a team order that favored Alonso, Hamilton rebelled and channeled his anger to win the following race in Canada.
Leclerc will comply with team orders ‘depending on the situation’
From that point on, a fierce level of rivalry set in at McLaren and eventually forced Alonso to depart the team at the end of the year.
“When I got to Formula 1, I wanted to win as soon as possible and beat the champion I was racing against. So it is very similar,” said Hamilton in Baku.
“I see much of myself in Charles and he is doing a great job so far.
“With really high expectations at a huge team like Ferrari, he is driving so well, and he just has to keep doing what he is doing, it will come to him.”
Hamilton described the status of being a de facto number two within a team as “a privileged position”, but also one that “goes against your core values”.
“I understand how Charles feels because in his heart he believes he has the potential to be the best and it is almost like having your light dimmed.
“So as a racer and as a fierce competitor, you kind of rebel. They say to do one thing but the fighter in you wants to push against it. I experienced that.”
Made aware of Hamilton’s comments, Leclerc confirmed the frustrations associated with team orders, although the 21-year-old insisted he understood the Scuderia’s underlining motive.
“It is frustrating when you are in the car to be told to let past another driver, but on my side I understand them in a way,” Leclerc said.
“Seb is now in his fifth year with the team and has won four world titles, and I am only coming in my second year in F1 so I have got a lot of things to prove and now it is up to me to do the best job possible in the car to prove to the team what I am capable of.
“So I just need to continue doing what I am doing, trying to improve myself and hopefully it will change soon.”
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