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Hamilton: Ferrari will pay if Leclerc replaces Vettel as number one

Hamilton: Ferrari will pay if Leclerc replaces Vettel as number one

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Hamilton: Ferrari will pay if Leclerc replaces Vettel as number one

Hamilton: Ferrari will pay if Leclerc replaces Vettel as number one

Lewis Hamilton has waned Ferrari against throwing their full weight behind Charles Leclerc and dropping Sebastian Vettel as 'number one' driver too soon.

Leclerc has thrown down the gauntlet to not just Vettel, but the whole rid since the summer break, securing four straight pole positions ahead of this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.

The "priority" that team boss Mattia Binotto spoke of Vettel having in pre-season is now a thing of the past, with Ferrari taking matters into their own hands to engineer Leclerc back ahead of the German in Russia last time out after the four-time world champion had ignored team orders.

Hamilton said Ferrari's yearning to define their drivers' status could lead to problems.

Hamilton said: "It's an interesting dynamic they have there because obviously Seb was the number one and now clearly not. From kind of the energy, from the outlook, they're trying to ramp Charles up to be [number one instead].

"Is that good for a team? I don't think so. But that's the philosophy they've had for forever.

"We don't complain because we have a good philosophy, it works really well here and we don't plan on changing it any time soon."

Hamilton compared the situation to his debut season at McLaren, which ended in acrimony and controversy after Fernando Alonso became disgruntled at losing his number one status to the then-rookie.

"I've not had a team back the other side so much, so heavily, before," he said. "Obviously when I was with Fernando he was the hired number one, but then mid-season they changed that.

"He was still the number one because he was the highest-paid driver, but then they gave us equal fuel and then you started seeing changes like Montreal and Indianapolis, where we had equal fuel loads and stuff like that.

"Then that dynamic shifted and it obviously didn't go well for the team."

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