Schumacher’s prediction: Hamilton may not keep up with F1’s future

Amidst the shifting dynamics of Formula 1, there’s speculation that Lewis Hamilton might find it challenging to match pace with Charles Leclerc at Ferrari next year. This perspective gained further attention when Flavio Briatore, the ex-Renault boss, expressed on Rai 1 that Hamilton, if placed in Maranello, would perform akin to Leclerc, adding, “In the end, he might struggle to stay ahead of Charles because he is one of those drivers who doesn’t put much effort into it if the car isn’t good.”

Echoing Briatore’s sentiment, Ralf Schumacher, a veteran F1 race winner, concurred, suggesting Hamilton’s speed is contingent upon his confidence in winning. Schumacher articulated to, “Hamilton has to feel like he can win to be able to drive fast. So the question is – will he keep up with the times as the new rules come in (in 2026)? Because with new rules, the driving style also changes, and he may have difficulty with that,” casting doubts on the seven-time world champion’s adaptability to the 2026 regulations overhaul when he dons the Ferrari red at 40.

Schumacher further pondered over Hamilton’s extensive experience, questioning its tangible benefits for Ferrari, suggesting, “He will certainly bring his expertise and insights, but I think Ferrari is already well on its way. Hamilton won’t be able to contribute too much.”

However, Schumacher refrained from overly critiquing Frederic Vasseur’s decision to sign Hamilton, reasoning, “I’m sure Vasseur wouldn’t pay that much money for nothing. He will offer and give Hamilton everything to ensure he can perform. But I’m curious to see who will lead the way,” referring to the anticipated rivalry between Hamilton and Leclerc, aged 26. He highlighted the management challenge in catering to the diverse needs of both drivers.

Predicting potential internal dynamics, Schumacher foresees Hamilton attempting to overshadow Leclerc and influencing the car’s engineering and developmental trajectory to align with his preferences.

In a theoretical scenario where Schumacher had to choose between Hamilton and Max Verstappen, he leaned towards Verstappen, citing, “Hamilton is of course a seven-time world champion and a fantastic driver. But I don’t think he has the qualities that Verstappen has. I don’t think he is as consistent as Verstappen. And he cannot get that extra tenth out at any cost,” albeit acknowledging Ferrari’s strong position and prospects for the coming year with Hamilton onboard, “I think Ferrari is already very good, and I think they will be next year, too.”


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