Lewis Hamilton has warned that it would be "unfair" to pin championship expectations or hopes on Charles Leclerc for the 2019 Formula 1 season, as the Ferrari newcomer is only embarking on his second full season within the sport after featuring for Sauber last year.
Before the conclusion of the 2018 campaign, Ferrari announced that they would be promoted Leclerc from Sauber, with Kimi Raikkonen going in the other direction.
It was seen as a bold move from the Prancing Horse, who have traditionally favoured more experienced drivers.
The Monegasque driver is viewed by many as a future world champion, and widely praised for his pace on the track, but Hamilton thinks there shouldn't be too much pressure put on him at the moment.
When asked if he viewed Leclerc as a title rival, Hamilton told media at pre-season testing in Barcelona: "I think it would be unfair to put that kind of expectation on his shoulders. It's only his second year, right?
"He's young, he's going to make mistakes. He's obviously very quick, very talented, and hopefully, most likely, he's going to surprise many, many people."
Hamilton was asked whether Leclerc could match or even better his team-mate Sebastian Vettel this season, but there is no comparison quite yet according to the Brit.
"You're talking about a veteran out there [Vettel]. A four-time world champion. There's no substitute for experience.
"So it will be interesting to see how those two parallels work together.
"But Sebastian is a multi world champion and Charles has lots of experience to go through. The great thing with a youngster is they are energised beyond belief and determined and they have more energy than the olders do, so, as I said - it will be interesting to watch.
"But I've been in that same position at McLaren. You've seen it in one realm, it will be interesting to see the next one."
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