Ex-Formula 1 racer David Coulthard can no longer see a Lewis Hamilton exit from Mercedes being on the cards, unless…
It was back at the Monaco Grand Prix that both Hamilton and Ferrari firmly shut down rumours that the seven-time champ could head to Maranello, with his current Mercedes contract set to expire at the end of the F1 2023 campaign.
And while Hamilton has continued to verbally pledge his loyalty to Mercedes, as well as he and team boss Toto Wolff dropping several hints that a deal is nearly complete, still no official confirmation has arrived.
Only Lewis Hamilton falling out with Mercedes would see him leave
That is the view of former Williams, McLaren and Red Bull racer Coulthard, who despite Wolff having now claimed that the very fine details are holding up an agreement, cannot foresee a scenario where Hamilton departs Mercedes and joins a rival team.
That is, unless, a breakdown in talks leads to a fallout between the parties, though Coulthard questioned whether even such an occurrence would shatter the long-standing union between Hamilton and Mercedes.
“I don’t think there is any realistic chance that Lewis will leave Mercedes unless there is a major fallout,” Coulthard told PA. “And I can’t see that happening.
“Who would the major fallout be with? Even if it was with Toto, Lewis’ relationship with Mercedes’ parent company Daimler is much longer than Toto’s emergence as team principal of Mercedes.”
Competitive Mercedes needed to keep Lewis Hamilton around
Hamilton’s former team-mate and rival Fernando Alonso is currently proving that age is just a number when it comes to Formula 1 drivers these days, and that instead fitness and motivation are the key factors.
Alonso is now approaching his 42nd birthday, and Coulthard believes the Spaniard will serve as an example to the 38-year-old Hamilton that he too could extend his career in a similar way.
The key though, to Coulthard’s mind, will be motivation, with Hamilton having been left disappointed again by the fact that Mercedes remain out of title contention in F1 2023, Hamilton chasing that record eighth World Championship which cruelly slipped away on the last lap of the 2021 season.
Hamilton had seemingly been rejuvenated by Mercedes’ performance gains after upgrading their W14, and following a surprise setback in Austria, he is now looking to get back on that wave of momentum at his home race, the British Grand Prix, where further upgrades for the W14 will arrive.
And with Hamilton having spoken of title aspirations once again looking ahead to F1 2024, Coulthard says Mercedes must convince their driver that this is the path which they are indeed heading down.
“I am sure there are quotes from drivers when they were younger, who said they could not see themselves racing into their late 30s and beyond. I am sure Lewis will have said something similar,” Coulthard stated.
“But he’ll look at Fernando Alonso, and think ‘if Fernando, who is 42 this month, is still competitive, then why not me?’
“However, the only reason for Hamilton to hang around is to try and win races and compete for championships. Scoring points will not change his life. He needs to see what Mercedes can show him that gives him the confidence he will be competitive next year, rather than having to stay around for another three seasons.”
With Red Bull having only further emphasised their Formula 1 dominance in F1 2023, it means Hamilton is facing the very real prospect of going a second season without a victory.