Five world champions in the past 12 years. That says much about how the elite dominate in Formula 1 and how hard it is to break through to the topper-most of the popper-most. Of that quintet of champions, two – Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg – are already retired and the other three will be aware, to varying degrees, just how loudly the clock is ticking. Kimi Räikkönen, champion in 2007, is the oldest, having just turned 40; Lewis Hamilton, champion for the first time in 2008, is 34; Sebastian Vettel, who won four consecutive titles between 2010 and 2013, is 32 but is increasingly looking older after a fraught couple of years at Ferrari. What is certain is that all are closer to the end than the beginning.
That’s true even of Hamilton, despite still appearing at the height of his powers. But he will recognise that a changing of the generations – as inevitable as taxes – is upon F1. How can he not, after a 2019 season in which a clutch of fresh talent has risen to challenge the status quo, with all the glorious precociousness and cocksure self-belief of youth?
F1’s new power generation are not just the future. They’re right here, right now, and ready to grab at opportunities, whenever and wherever they come.
Charles Leclerc, age 22, team Ferrari