Lewis Hamilton throws weight behind Charles Leclerc to beat Max Verstappen to world title

F1 preview: A lap of the Monaco Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he wants Charles Leclerc to win the F1 world championship instead of Max Verstappen. The Mercedes star claimed Leclerc is a ‘very strong’ driver and believes Ferrari has now shown they can ‘create a great car’.

The seven-time champion explained that he was a ‘Ferrari fan’ and would support Leclerc in a title fight. But, when he was asked whether he believes Leclerc or Verstappen will win the title, Hamilton responded that Mercedes themselves were not yet out of the battle.

Speaking to Italian publication Corriere Della Sera, he said: “So you take it for granted that we at Mercedes are done for? Don’t underestimate us. Ferrari are stronger in qualifying and Red Bull in the race.

“But it changes with every race, and Ferrari has shown that they know how to create a great car. And then Charles is very strong. Anyway, I would add one thing: if I could sit down with the fans over there, I would support Charles. I’m a Ferrari fan.”

Leclerc enjoyed a brilliant start to the season with two wins from the first three races. Retirements for Verstappen in the Bahrain and Australian Grands Prix saw the Dutchman drop 46 points behind the Monegasque after the first three races.

However, Verstappen has won every race since Australia to recover the lost ground. Leclerc’s retirement in Spain saw the Dutchman overtake him in the standings for the first time this season.

The reigning champion has also won every race he has finished this season as momentum swings away from the Italian marquee. Meanwhile, Hamilton has struggled to keep up with the pace of frontrunners Ferrari and Red Bull so far this season.

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He finds himself sixth in the drivers’ standings, a massive 64 points behind new championship leader Max Verstappen. However, Leclerc has yet to completely write off Hamilton’s chances of eventually competing for wins and the championship.

The Monegasque said: “I never really discarded them from the championship because I know how strong of a team they are. What they’ve shown in the last years is not by chance, it’s because they’ve got the right people and they are working in the right way.

“They’ve had a difficult start of the season but there’s no question for me that they will be back very very soon, and as they’ve shown in Barcelona, they already did a big step forward.”

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