Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton has been told he won’t be able to keep apace with Max Verstappen again in 2024 due to his advancing years, with Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc tipped to mount a challenge for the Formula 1 world championship.
The Red Bull driver won 19 out of 22 races last season to clinch his third successive world title, with Red Bull only prevented from a clean sweep of winning every race by Carlos Sainz in Singapore.
Many expect Verstappen and Red Bull to match Sebastian Vettel‘s achievement of four titles in a row this year, although Ferrari and Mercedes are hoping to close the gap.
But ex-Jordan F1 owner Eddie Jordan, who managed the team between 1991 and 2005, believes Hamilton, at 39 years old, is incapable of competing with his younger drivers Verstappen and Leclerc.
“I only see one challenger [to Verstappen] and that is Charles Leclerc,” Jordan told AUTO BILD. “Ferrari must succeed in building him a car on a par with the Red Bull this year. Otherwise, I can’t see any excitement.
“If I had a top team now and didn’t get Max, there would only be one driver pairing capable of taking on Verstappen: Charles Leclerc and, as a team-mate, Lando Norris.
“I simply don’t believe that Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, who are well-deserved champions, would be able to keep up with Verstappen due to their advanced age.”
Red Bull chief dismisses Verstappen challengers
The fact that Norris has been linked with Red Bull to partner Verstappen is no surprise after enjoying a stellar end to 2023, where he regularly challenged the Dutchman and finished on the podium after McLaren’s mid-season development work paid off.
But Red Bull’s special advisor Helmut Marko suggested that while Norris and Leclerc are talented drivers, Verstappen will be the driver to beat in 2024 if Red Bull provide him with a competitive car, adding he still has room for improvement.
“Leclerc and Norris are certainly exceptional talents. But both have shown weaknesses in consistency in the past,” Marko said, speaking to the outlet.
“What’s more, Max is not yet at the limit. He will get even better. It’s our job to provide him with a car as good as the one he had in 2023. Then he will be the benchmark again.”