Charles Leclerc has insisted that he is not worried about the prospect of Lewis Hamilton or George Russell being able to challenge for the Drivers’ Championship title over the course of this season. Mercedes have struggled for pace in comparison to the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari since the beginning of the campaign but managed to make plenty of progress at last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
Russell managed to secure an impressive third-placed finish at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, while Hamilton rolled back the years to produce a hugely determined effort after an early tangle with Kevin Magnussen to claim his third top-five finish since the beginning of the year. Leclerc is not worried about the possibility of Mercedes being able to challenge him or Max Verstappen for this year’s end-of-season honors, though, in spite of the German outfit’s newly-found optimism ahead of this week’s Monaco Grand Prix.
“I think it will be more between Red Bull and Ferrari,” Leclerc told La Gazette de Monaco. “At the moment Mercedes are still a bit behind even though they have made progress, but a team like this can never really be left out of the debate.”
It remains to be seen whether Mercedes will be able to prove Leclerc wrong by challenging at the right end of the order in Monaco when F1 returns to the principality over the course of this weekend. Hamilton recently insisted that the Silver Arrows are finally on the right track after an initially disappointing start to the new season before revealing that he is looking forward to another opportunity to impress at the next Grand Prix of the year.
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“Yesterday [at the Spanish Grand Prix] was another day that reminded me just how much I love this sport,” Hamilton tweeted on Monday.
“Going from your emotions hitting the floor to ending on a high is such a thrill. All of our hard work as a team is starting to pay off. Together we are making progress! Can’t wait for this weekend.”
Hamilton currently occupies sixth place in the Drivers’ Championship standings and will be desperate to begin climbing up the table as a matter of priority in order to reignite his faint hopes of clinching a record-breaking eighth title at the end of the campaign. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has already refused to write off his team’s slim hopes of joining the battle for supremacy at the front of the grid in the near future by insisting that no motivation has been lost in spite of their early struggles to date.
“We have reasons to believe we can get there,” said Wolff after Sunday’s race in Spain. “If you look at the standings that is very hard to see but motor racing is a different ball game.
“We’ve seen today that Ferrari didn’t score a lot of points when they should have and we will absolutely push flat out to bring us back into the game.”
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