Hamilton backed by Leclerc for F1 title fight return

Charles Leclerc feels Lewis Hamilton will be in title contention againCharles Leclerc feels Lewis Hamilton will be in title contention again

Charles Leclerc has no doubt Lewis Hamilton will be back in F1 title contention this season if the Mercedes W14 can deliver.

Mercedes unveils its 2023 challenger today (Wed), looking to prove it has understood the new aerodynamic regulations that were introduced last year.

After eight years of domination, Mercedes floundered last season with its W13 which was subject to violent porpoising and bouncing before finally making inroads towards the end of the campaign.

The team had to wait until the penultimate race of the year in São Paulo to win a race, with George Russell taking the chequered flag.

For the first time in his 16-season career, however, the man who holds the record for most wins in Formula 1 in Hamilton ended the year without a victory.

Leclerc, speaking at the launch of Ferrari’s SF-23, feels if Mercedes has found a permanent cure for its woes of last year, then Hamilton will be in the reckoning.

“Lewis will never be out of the question for a championship fight,” said Leclerc. “I’m pretty sure if he has the car he will be there.

“We must not forget what he’s achieved in the sport and he still has it. We saw that many times last year.

“Lewis will be there, like Red Bull will be, too, and I hope it’s going to be a great fight.”

Leclerc hopeful of unreliability fix

For Leclerc’s own championship bid, he knows Ferrari has to eradicate the unreliability that played a damaging role in his quest last season.

The Monégasque was cautiously optimistic when asked about the situation going into the new season.

“The big work was done on reliability,” added Leclerc, referring to the Scuderia’s focus during the off-season.

“I don’t want to express myself too much before then but there’s been a lot of work on that so I hope we won’t have any reliability problems this year.”

Vasseur “amazing” since arrival – Leclerc

Leclerc goes into the new season working under a new team principal in Fred Vasseur.

The two men have previously worked together at Sauber so already have a strong bond going back a few years.

The pressure is on both to deliver this season, with Leclerc impressed by the start Vasseur has made to his tenure.

“From what I’ve seen, he has been amazing to settle in this new position,” assessed Leclerc.

“With a new team like Ferrari, there are so many people, it is so big. I feel it’s different when you arrive at Ferrari.

“But he knows what he wants, he knows what we need to do well, and how to put the people in the best condition in order to extract the maximum from out of them, and this is super important.

“I’m sure this will be a big help and I can’t wait to be at the first race to see the results.”

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