Hamilton identifies his biggest title-rival for 2019

03-12-2018 17:14
by Nicolás Quarles van Ufford
General
Hamilton identifies his biggest title-rival for 2019

Despite Charles Leclerc signing on at Ferrari and Red Bull Racing's new partnership with Honda kicking in in 2019, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton still thinks Sebastian Vettel will be his main title rival in 2019.

Vettel was the championship leader in 2018 for almost half of the season, as Hamilton overtook the German in the 11th round and never looked back. It really looked like 2018 was Ferrari's year up until that point, but the devastating consistency of both Hamilton and Mercedes proved too much for Ferrari and Vettel once again. 

With Ferrari now having replaced Kimi Raikkonen with the young Leclerc, Hamilton could have a new challenger on his hands. At 21 year old, Leclerc has shown to possess all the talent in the world in his one season in F1 at Sauber, and he should be able to kick on at Ferrari and form a terrific partnership with Vettel.

Add to that the fact that Red Bull Racing could be making a step up with new engine partner Honda, and Mercedes will have their hands full in 2019. Still, when asked who will be his main rival in 2019, the reigning champion insisted that Vettel would be it.

“I would imagine it’s going to be Sebastian,” the 33-year-old told Formula1.com.

“And Valtteri alongside me.”

Asked how Red Bull would fit into all this, Hamilton recognized that the Austrian team has all of the potential in the world, but there are some key issues that need addressing.

“They’ve been very strong at the end of the year, they’ve got a new engine next year. Will it be able to compete with ours? I hope so, because that would be epic if Red Bull could really start to mingle with us a bit more, weekend in, weekend out.

“They’ve got to obviously improve on their reliability, which has been a big downfall for them this year. So there’s lots of areas [to work on], but I really wish them all the best – and we are down for the competition that’s for sure.”

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