Leclerc: Hamilton 'went over' Mercedes car's potential in Brazil

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Charles Leclerc believes Lewis Hamilton's remarkable performance in Brazil last weekend went beyond the potential of Mercedes' car.

Hamilton's pace in qualifying in Sao Paulo was a warning shot for his rivals, but a rear wing declared non-compliant by the stewards sent the Briton to the back of the grid for Saturday's sprint race.

Undeterred, Hamilton stormed through the field to finish fifth, a position that would put him tenth on Sunday's grid after a five-place grid penalty warranted by an engine change was factored in.

Launching his race with the bit between his teeth, the seven-time world champion caught up with the front-runners in short order and overhauled race leader and championship rival Max Verstappen with 12 laps to go, entertaining the mesmerized Brazilian crowd along the way to conquer his 101st career win in F1.

"Of course, Mercedes and Red Bull have a strong car at the moment but what Lewis has shown this weekend, I think is going over what a car can give," Leclerc said after last Sunday's race.

"He has done a really impressive performance. So yeah, fair play to him. To win after everything that happened to him this weekend is a great achievement.

"I think that should be seen outside of the car performance. I think he just did a great job."

Carlos Sainz was on the same page as his Scuderia teammate but underscored how fans too often put the emphasis on the car rather than the driver when a remarkable performance is witnessed.

"Yeah, I keep seeing these debates on social media and everywhere, and I keep wondering why can it not be the two things?" commented the Spaniard.

"I think it was the combination of a great driver, a great talented guy that this weekend I think was inspired in combination with a car that this weekend was very dominant, like the Mercedes, we saw it since FP1.

"I just feel like why can it not be both driver and car? And I would give them like a perfect 10 to both of them.

"You know, one thing doesn’t come without the other and the other doesn’t come without the one. So what they did was just an incredible performance, so I congratulate both Lewis and Mercedes."

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