Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey remains confident the sport’s emerging young talents including Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc can fill the high-profile gap which will emerge once Lewis Hamilton retires.

The newly-crowned six-time F1 world champion holds both a sporting record and profile which massively outranks his fellow drivers, as Hamilton can claim to be the sport’s only global superstar on the current grid.

But with Hamilton turning 35 before the start of the 2020 F1 campaign, his next contract is anticipated to be his last in the sport having already spoken about weighing up his options after he retires from racing.

Carey heaped praise on Hamilton given the status and interest he provides F1 and while he doesn’t want to see the British driver step away from the sport he has faith in the youngsters looking to dethrone the reigning world champion.

“I hope Lewis races forever! I think he is an incredible champion and his success speaks for itself and he is our sport’s hero, second to none and even though we hope he races forever he won’t but I think he still has some challenges ahead of him and we would like to see him tackle those,” Carey said.

“That said, we’ve got an incredible rank of young talent. The breadth and depth of young talent coming into the sport could not be more exciting. We’ve got Max who has been racing a few years but we forget how young he is.

“But whether it is Max or Charles or Lando I think we’ve got an incredibly exciting future and for those drivers I hope they get a chance to battle with Lewis. We’ve got to make sure and work hard with the FIA to construct a proper pyramid below Formula 1.”

The F1 chief is buoyed by the restructuring already completed to the single-seater championship ladder – seeing the return of Formula 2 and Formula 3 as support series to F1 – and wants further progress to be made to provide a clear and manageable career ladder for young drivers to go from karting to the top level of motorsport.

“When we came in there was GP2, Formula 3 and GP3, all fragmented and not well coordinated feeding into Formula 1,” he explained.

“We’ve tried to make a more proper pyramid and we want to try to strength that pyramid so it can provide opportunities for young drivers to continue to emerge. For drivers to become champions and continue to compete and for young drivers to come into it.”

FIA President Jean Todt echoed Carey’s comments in Abu Dhabi during the final round of the 2019 F1 season but isn’t concerned about motorsport suffering when Hamilton retires given the previous stars who have created F1’s history.

“It is fantastic to have a personality and a champion like Lewis but it is part of the history of motorsport that every decade we have special talents,” Todt said. “Before Lewis we had Michael [Schumacher] and from the start we had Fangio, Clark, Stewart and many other amazing talents.

“One day Lewis will go and some new talents will come through like Verstappen, Leclerc and other newcomers. Of course the car will help them and I think new drivers we’ve had recently like Norris, Russell and Gasly are very talented drivers and when they have the car to win the new Lewis of the generation will emerge.”

Hamilton’s current contract at Mercedes expires at the end of 2020 with the British driver keen to stay in F1 beyond next season. The six-time world champion has already been of interest to Ferrari with Mercedes facing a fight to keep their star driver.

 

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