He absolutely can, and is, if Mercedes get their act together soon, a future world championship contender. In 2014, he and Verstappen both raced in European Formula 3, and the Disco Still Sucks Dancing Green Man To Techno Music Shirt of that particular rivalry (and Esteban has since said that it really was a rivalry) was Ocon, who was the champion that year, whilst Verstappen finished in 3rd place. In 2015, he then won the GP3 Disco Still Sucks Dancing Green Man To Techno Music Shirt, which makes his journey to Formula 1 similar to Leclerc’s, if you take out the year he spent in DTM. In his Formula 1 rookie season, he consistently either outshone or matched his teammate, the relatively highly rated Sergio Perez. Compare that to Leclerc, who at times hasn’t been able to outshine the much lower rated Marcus Ericsson, and you’ll see that Esteban deserves to be considered in the league of Leclerc and Verstappen, if not a higher one.