In Brief

F1: Leclerc tipped to challenge Hamilton and Vettel for 2019 title

Future Verstappen-Hamilton partnership ruled out by Red Bull

Ocon backs Leclerc’s title challenge

Esteban Ocon is predicting that Charles Leclerc will be a contender for the 2019 Formula 1 championship when he joins Ferrari from Sauber next season.

Force India driver Ocon, who has raced against Leclerc since they were children, believes the 21-year-old Monegasque star can rival Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel for grand prix wins and podium places.

According to the Daily Express, Ocon, 22, said: “I think Charles will challenge for the title in 2019. At least it wouldn’t be a surprise to me.

“I know he has a very good talent from day one. He’s one of the quickest guys out there. I think he will show that next year, definitely.”

Marko: Max and Lewis ‘would not work’

A Lewis Hamilton-Max Verstappen line-up would be viewed by many F1 fans as the perfect driver partnership, but it’s never going to happen at Red Bull.

Sky Sports reports that Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko says that the two drivers’ considerable egos would make such a partnership impossible.

“You have to have some sort of harmony in the team,” said Marko. “At the moment they are the two drivers with the biggest ego. That would be more than a challenge to the team.”

Meanwhile, Marko is insisting that Verstappen and Red Bull will challenge for the F1 title next season.

“Max never surprises us with how good he is,” Marko said. “We will have the Honda engine next year and this project is very promising. I think we can fight for the championship next year.”

Brawn: Vettel is out of sorts

Formula 1 motorsport director Ross Brawn says that Sebastian Vettel’s recent mistakes suggest that the Ferrari driver is “out of sorts”.

Vettel’s championship challenge has collapsed in recent weeks, while rival Lewis Hamilton only needs to finish seventh or above in Mexico on Sunday to secure the 2018 title.

Asked by Autosport about Vettel’s “string of high-profile errors” this season, Brawn said: “I certainly don’t want to put Vettel in the dock but these incidents can no longer be seen as coincidence. Rather they would seem to indicate that Sebastian is a bit out of sorts at the moment.”

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