Lewis Hamilton for Charles Leclerc is the driver F1 needs


It goes without saying that both Mercedes and Ferrari are a bit of a mess in 2023, and that expression is being generous. Any hope of challenging Red Bull this season was out the window, and it got to the point where Fernando Alonso’s run for Aston Martin has taken them to second place in the constructors’ championship, leaving F1’s two most popular teams behind them.

An overhaul is needed – and Ferrari is reportedly interested in putting Lewis Hamilton in a red car next season. How this will go might seem a bit of a mystery, but there is one obvious and plausible solution: There has to be a swap of driver Hamilton for Charles Leclerc.

On the surface this may seem ridiculous. Leclerc is the driver of the future, right? The young star designed to bring Ferrari back to prominence? Well, maybe not. We are now five years into this experiment, and it is not working. There are several main reasons why a revamp of the two teams would make world sense and set them up for a new future.

No.1: Sainz is a better fit for Ferrari

Ferrari has been in turmoil since Mattia Binotti retired before the season, and Leclerc looks uncomfortable with his new car. Last season Charles had a slight advantage over Carlos Sainz, but that will evaporate in 2023.

Sainz is a better, more patient fit for a team still trying to turn the page and build the next chapter. We also know that Hamilton is traditionally stoic, excels at not making waves, and is generally much better off in places where he can tolerate rework. In addition, Hamilton’s experience can collaborate with Ferrari to make the team better.

No 2: Mercedes has gotten very young, and very cheeky

Mercedes has its own engineering problems in 2023, but they are far more common than Ferrari’s. The team is looking ahead to the future, and what better way than pairing George Russell and Charles Leclerc?

It was a young and beautiful marketing dream that ushered in a new era of F1 at Mercedes and greatly reduced the blow of saying goodbye to Hamilton. While replacing Lewis isn’t something you can do easily, it did go a long way toward starting a youth movement that could sustain the team for the next decade.

No 3: Hamilton is the perfect stop-gap while Ferrari decides the next move

Let’s be real: Hamilton only has a year or two left. After that Mercedes needed to see who they were planning to hunt down.

There is currently a bit of a vacancy in terms of young drivers. The next candidates likely to make the switch to a big team are Lance Stroll, Yuki Tsunoda, or one of McLaren’s struggling youngsters. Neither one of these quartet is ready to step up and carry the weight of a top team.

However, if Mercedes turn to Leclerc now, they’re set for the future. Meanwhile, Ferrari will get a year or two to put their car together, before making a big splash in someone like Theo Pourchair or Frederick Vesti, both of whom ripped Formula 2 apart and seemed destined for greatness.

Can exchanges like this happen?

Realistically, maybe not. First it means Mercedes parting ways with Hamilton, something they loathe to do so much that they will probably spend as much money as necessary to keep him. Second, it would require Ferrari to choose Sainz over Leclerc, which also feels impossible.

Even so, that doesn’t mean this isn’t the best move for both teams. If either is to pull it together and try to push Red Bull in 2024, they need to do something different, as the status quo only allows the two teams to play third and fourth fiddle at this point.


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