Lewis Hamilton driving at ‘pretty similar’ level to future Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, says Nico Rosberg

Lewis Hamilton will drive alongside Charles Leclerc in 2025 when the Brit joins Ferrari from Mercedes; Hamilton’s former team-mate Nico Rosberg says he expects there to be a “tough battle” between the pair next season

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Sky F1’s Karun Chandhok and Damon Hill discuss the problems at Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton’s decision to join Ferrari next season.

Lewis Hamilton is driving at a “pretty similar” level to Charles Leclerc and faces a “tough battle” when the pair become Ferrari team-mates next season, according to Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton stunned the sporting world in February as he confirmed that 2024 would be his 12th and final season with Mercedes ahead of a move to the Italian team.

The seven-time world champion has endured a challenging start to his final campaign with Silver Arrows, failing to finish ahead of team-mate George Russell in any of the first five grands prix.

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Leclerc was chosen over current team-mate Carlos Sainz to remain at Ferrari alongside Hamilton, but has also been outperformed during the early stages of the season.

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Lewis Hamilton faced challenges with the Mercedes W15 during the Chinese Grand Prix.

“We’re all looking forward to that dynamic,” said Sky Sports F1 pundit Rosberg, who drove alongside Hamilton at Mercedes from 2013 to 2016.

“Charles doesn’t seem like someone who goes into conflict too much with his team-mate, so that will make it easier, maybe it won’t be too extremely spicy.

“Nevertheless, Charles is probably the second-best qualifier out there after Max Verstappen, one could possibly say at the moment, so it will be a tough battle for both.

“I think the level could be pretty similar, so it will be great to watch.”

While Red Bull remain the sport’s dominant force, Sainz led a Ferrari one-two at the Australian Grand Prix, while a Ferrari driver has featured on the podium at four of the five races this season.

“It came as a huge surprise,” Rosberg said. “No one expected it. But If you look at the grand scheme of things, then why not?

“It’s towards the end of his career. There are two legendary teams – Mercedes and Ferrari – and I know Lewis has always been a big fan of Ferrari road cars also, so why not make that switch and have a different experience of driving in red once?

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Fernando Alonso saves himself from going into the wall with a quick reaction and shortly after overtakes both Lewis Hamilton and Oscar Piastri.

“At the moment, it seems in performance terms to be the right decision for him, which maybe he’s made an amazing move like he did 12 years ago by moving from McLaren for Mercedes.

“McLaren was winning races and Mercedes was nowhere, and the moment he moved, McLaren went backwards and Mercedes started winning races. Maybe he can get the same timing done again.”

‘Hamilton can follow Alonso into forties’

Hamilton will turn 40 next January ahead of his first season with Ferrari, but will remain only the second oldest driver on the grid after Fernando Alonso signed a contract extension with Aston Martin.

The Spaniard inked a deal to continue driving until at least the end of the 2026 season, during which he will turn 45.

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Lewis Hamilton poked fun at George Russell when asked about his physical fitness ahead of the Chinese GP.

While Rosberg suggested Hamilton’s level may have dipped since last season, the German believes his former team-mate will have “no problem” continuing his career.

“Fernando is turning 43 in a couple of months, and to see him still driving at the very, very best level is really incredible,” Rosberg said.

“It’s only because he’s one of the best drivers of all time that he’s able to do that. And therefore, yes, surely Lewis (can also).

“Just half a year ago, Lewis was maybe still the best on the grid together with Verstappen, now the beginning of the season has been a little bit more difficult, but surely Lewis can do the same and go into his forties, no problem.”

Swap the early alarms for prime-time evening viewing as Formula 1 next makes its first of three visits to the USA in 2024, with the Miami GP on May 3-5. Steam every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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