Lewis Hamilton sees similarities between himself and Charles Leclerc and says the Ferrari driver reminds him of his own debut season in Formula 1.

Leclerc graduated to Ferrari after just a single season in F1 and has already looked a match for teammate Sebastian Vettel. The Monegasque was set to claim his maiden win in Bahrain until late engine issues robbed him of a deserved victory.

Ferrari has also imposed team orders on Leclerc at each of the opening three races of 2019, telling him to hold station behind Vettel in Australia and to let his faster teammate past in China.

Asked if he sees any similarities between the situation at Ferrari and his own intra-team battle against Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2007, Hamilton replied: “For sure yeah.

“I think he’s a little bit younger than I was, a year or so, but when you’re young, particularly, I remember wanting to get to Formula 1 as soon as possible and then when I got there I wanted to win as soon as possible and beat the champion I was racing against.

“So it’s very, very similar, so I see much of myself in Charles. And he’s doing a great job already so far, with really high expectations at a huge team like Ferrari. He’s driving so well, he just has to keep doing what he’s doing, it’ll come to him.”

While Hamilton would not be drawn on the subject of team orders, he understands how Leclerc must be feeling.

“It’s not my decision to make,” Hamilton said. “I don’t know. I don’t have to run the team and I don’t have to make decisions so it doesn’t make any difference to me. I’m fighting against both of them.

“My philosophy as a racing driver has always been I just want to always it to be equal opportunity with whoever it is that I’m racing to be able to show my ability,” he added.

“I got to Formula 1 and perhaps these teams, how they’re always set up, you have - there are a couple of scenarios where you have multiple world champion who demands the number one position and therefore you become the number two in a supporting role.

“Whilst it’s a privilege position to be in, it goes against your core value because you’re a racing driver at heart.

“That’s why I’m saying I understand how Charles feels because in his heart he believes he’s the best, or got the potential to be the best, and it’s almost like having your light dimmed and then as a racer, as a fierce competitor, you kind of rebel.

“I’ve experienced that, and luckily for me and for my team at the time, there was equal fuel loads, because back then there wasn’t equal fuel loads in qualifying and the next race they did I won my first Grand Prix.

“For me this justified the rebellious side that I had and from then on it just felt like I had more of a chance to show my ability each weekend.”


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