Hamilton opens up on plans to remain in F1 ahead of new season
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Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes future remains unclear as mixed messages come out of the Silver Arrows over the 38-year-old’s destiny. For the second season running, Mercedes have failed to produce a car capable of battling Max Verstappen and Red Bull at the front.
It leaves Hamilton unable to challenge for an eighth title which remains one of his biggest motivations to stay in the sport. A new extension has yet to be signed with team boss Toto Wolff revealing they have yet to hold extensive talks on the matter.
On Friday, Wolff admitted the team would accept losing Hamilton if the German manufacturer is unable to give him a strong package. So will Hamilton really walk out of the team that has helped him win six Drivers’ Championships or is a new extension almost a certainty?
Evidence Hamilton will leave Mercedes
Ahead of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Hamilton publicly called out Mercedes bosses for not listening to him over the development of the new W14. He called for chiefs to “own up” and take “accountability” for the decisions which led to an uncompetitive car.
Speaking to the BBC, Hamilton explained: “Last year, I told them the issues that are with the car. Like, I’ve driven so many cars in my life, so I know what a car needs, I know what a car doesn’t need.
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“And I think it’s really about accountability, it’s about owning up and saying ‘yeah, you know what, we didn’t listen to you, it’s not where it needs to be and we’ve got to work’.”
British world champions Jenson Button and Damon Hill have suggested Hamilton would not agree to a new deal until he knows how quick Mercedes are likely to be.
While Wolff said: As a driver, nevertheless, if he wants to win another World Championship, he needs to make sure he has the car. If we cannot demonstrate that we are able to give him a car in the next couple of years then he needs to look everywhere.”
Evidence Hamilton will stay at Mercedes
Hamilton also passionately defended the team over the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend and made clear he would remain with the team. On Thursday, the seven-time champion admitted he had “no plan” to walk away from the team as Mercedes was his family.
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After qualifying, Hamilton doubled down on the stance despite being a second a lap slower than Red Bull. He said: “I’m not focused on that. I love this team and I am so grateful for everyone that’s been on the journey with me with this team. I don’t envisage being anywhere else.
“I don’t see myself quitting. I don’t feel like I’m a quitter, but I wouldn’t say it’s giving me a lot. I’ve been there and done that and bought the t-shirt many times. But I am trying to be patient and work with the team to get us to a good place. That’s all I can say right now. I’m not planning on going anywhere else.”
Hamilton also shot down Hill and Button’s suggestions ahead of the new campaign, telling reporters: “It is ultimately people creating rumours without facts, and it is never helpful. You would have thought that they would both know me by now.
“I have been with Mercedes since I was 13, and last year we had a difficult year, but I am still here, and whether or not we have a difficult year this year, I will still be here.”
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