Hamilton as questioned Ferrari’s decision to make Leclerc their number one driver
However, as Formula One prepares to showcase itself at the Suzuka circuit, Hamilton has questioned what he believes is Ferrari’s decision to promote Charles Leclerc ahead of Sebastian Vettel as the team’s number one driver.
“It’s an interesting dynamic they have there, because obviously Seb was number one, and [he’s] now clearly not,” Hamilton said.
“From the energy from the outlook, [Ferrari is] trying to ramp Charles up to be [number one].
“Is that good for a team? I don’t think so. But that’s the philosophy they’ve had forever.
“We don’t complain, because we have a good philosophy [at Mercedes] that works really well here and we don’t plan on changing it any time soon.”
Charles Leclerc has had a breakout season for Ferrari this year, which began when he claimed his first win at Spa.
The 21-year-old Monegasque driver then followed that up the following week with a win at Monza, before going on to take second place at Singapore.
Lewis Hamilton is on course to claim his sixth world championship title this season
He also had pole position at the Russian Grand Prix but Ferrari’s strategy resulted in Vettel ignoring team orders, before the 32-year-old was forced into a retirement.
A frustrated Leclerc ended up in third place at Sohci, as Mercedes secured a one-two finish, which saw Hamilton claim his 10th victory of the season.
And speaking about team orders ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, Hamilton admitted he thinks number one status should be earned and not given out.
“I do understand – because ultimately when you’ve arrived [at a team], you want to have equal opportunity,” he added.
“There are drivers that always wanted that number one status, it’s easier for them.
“I like to earn that, but start on an equal platform.
“I think you can get that number one status weekend in, weekend out, rather than over the course of the season.
“But if you already know that you’re number two, it’s kind of defeatist, I think, your approach to the weekend.”