Lewis Hamilton says he sympathises with Ferrari ‘number 2’ Charles Leclerc.
The five time world champion says the situation reminds him of his own F1 debut in 2007, when his teammate was then reigning champion Fernando Alonso.
“There are scenarios where multiple world champions demand the number 1 position, and therefore you become a number 2,” said Hamilton.
He is referring also to the controversy after China, where Leclerc was ordered aside for his number 1 teammate Sebastian Vettel.
“I understand how Charles feels. It’s like having your light dimmed,” said Hamilton.
For now, Leclerc is keeping the controversy as quiet as possible, saying in Baku: “Whatever the team tells me, I will do it. To a certain point.
“I just have to show the team on the track that it makes no sense to put me behind.”
But arguably a bigger problem for Ferrari ahead of the fourth race in Baku is that neither Vettel nor Leclerc are yet to win a race.
Vettel said of the team orders controversy: “It’s a hype more on the outside, and important for us that it does not come inside.
“At the moment I have the feeling that it has not happened yet.”
Ferrari has brought multiple upgrades to Azerbaijan, with Vettel saying: “It’s a good step on paper.”
Former F1 driver Nick Heidfeld, though, thinks the Leclerc issue will be on Vettel’s mind.
“Leclerc is entitled to claim number 1 status, but he does not have it yet,” he told Sky Deutschland.
“Of course it brings unrest to the team, which is one more thing Vettel has to worry about it,” said Heidfeld.
“With Vettel’s experience, it is understandable that Ferrari relies on him as number 1. Whether it’s right at the end of the year, we will find out.”