Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari’s Russian Grand Prix controversy proved that Sebastian Vettel is ‘clearly not’ their number one driver anymore.
Hamilton is only a few points away from winning a sixth world championship, putting him just one behind German legend Michael Schumacher.
The 34-year-old has dominated the entire season, winning eight of the first 12 races prior to the summer break.
However, since the teams have returned, it has been Ferrari who have been on top, with Leclerc taking pole in all four races since the break.
Vettel and Leclerc’s up-and-down first year as teammates has been one of the most intriguing themes of F1 2019, with their most recent disagreement coming in Sochi, when Ferrari asked Vettel to swap places with the young Monegasque, who he had just passed for the lead.
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Hamilton felt that the team order given by Ferrari, which was disobeyed, made it clear that there has been a shift in power between the two drivers, with Leclerc now firmly the Scuderia’s chosen one.
“It’s an interesting dynamic they have there because obviously Seb was number one and now clearly not,” Hamilton said, as per RaceFans.net, at a press conference in Suzuka.
“From kind of the energy, from the outlook, they’re trying to ramp Charles up to be the guy.
“Is that good for a team? I don’t think so. But that’s the philosophy they’ve had forever.
“We don’t complain because we have a good philosophy, it works really well here and we don’t plan on changing it any time soon.”
The current relationship between Vettel and Leclerc has reminded Hamilton of his first season in F1 when partnering Spanish driver Fernando Alonso at McLaren.
“I’ve not had a team back the other side so much, so heavily, before,” Hamilton recalled.
“Obviously when I was with Fernando he was the hired number one. But then mid-season they changed that.
“He was still the number one because he was the highest-paid driver, et cetera, but then they gave us equal fuel and then you started seeing changes like Montreal and Indianapolis, where we had equal fuel loads and stuff like that.
“Then that dynamic shifted, and it obviously didn’t go well for the team.
“I do understand because ultimately when you arrive you want to have equal opportunity, I think. But there are drivers that always wanted that number one status. It’s easier for them. I like to earn that.
“Start on an equal platform, then either of you can get that number one status on that weekend: Weekend in, weekend out, rather than over the course of the season.”News Now - Sport News