'Only Leclerc can stop Hamilton's dominance'

Former Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine believes Charles Leclerc is the only driver on the Formula 1 grid currently capable of stopping Lewis Hamilton from securing more title success.

Hamilton has secured his fifth championship in six years in 2019, with Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel seeing attempts to dethrone the Briton fall short in recent seasons.

Leclerc sits third in the drivers’ standings in his maiden season for the Scuderia, and might have gotten closer to the Silver Arrows’ duo if not for an early-season “priority” afforded to Vettel by Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto.

And Irvine says Binotto must make Leclerc and Vettel’s roles more defined in 2020, in order to maximise Ferrari’s chances of finally overhauling Mercedes.

“I think this is one of the difficult things that he [Binotto] has to get on top of because I think Vettel can do damage to Leclerc’s chances of winning the title, which I don’t think Bottas can do to Hamilton,” Irvine told Betway.

“The only guy who I think can race at the same level as Hamilton is Leclerc. Hamilton always destroys Vettel in a head to head.”

Glimpses of a potential Leclerc-Hamilton battle have already been seen this year, most notably at the Italian GP, when the younger man shoved his rival off the track while defending what would ultimately become an emotional win on Ferrari’s home soil.

“If you look at what Leclerc did to Hamilton in Monza, it was probably illegal but it was so perfectly done that it was hard to punish him for it,” Irvine said.

“That’s why I am really interested to see Leclerc to head to head with Hamilton more often.”