Fred Vasseur reveals regular talks with Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes waiting game continues

Oliver Harden
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton greets Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur in the Formula 1 paddock at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Baku, 2023.

Fred Vasseur said he often speaks with Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur has revealed that he is in constant dialogue with Lewis Hamilton as the wait to sign his new Mercedes contract continues. 

Hamilton’s existing deal is due to expire at the end of the 2023 season, yet despite repeated reassurances that he will continue with Mercedes negotiations over a new contract are yet to be concluded.

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes team boss, has offered no update since claiming at last month’s Belgian Grand Prix talks were at the stage of “lawyers speaking to lawyers”, indicating to media including PlanetF1.com’s Sam Cooper that an agreement is in place.

Ferrari boss lifts lid on close relationship with Lewis Hamilton

Before he announced his intention to stay at Mercedes, in May Hamilton was linked to a big-money move to Ferrari with claims that John Elkann, the Ferrari president, was personally involved in an attempt to lure the seven-time World Champion.

Hamilton is known to have a close relationship with Vasseur, who oversaw his landmark title-winning GP2 campaign in 2006, which directly preceded his promotion to F1 with McLaren as the team-mate to Fernando Alonso, then the reigning double World Champion.

And Vasseur has lifted the lid on his bond with Hamilton while refusing to compare the 38-year-old to Ferrari’s current drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

Quizzed about Ferrari’s rumoured negotiations with Hamilton, he told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport: “I talk to him at every GP, he raced for me 20 years ago and we are still close.

“I helped him when he went to McLaren at the beginning of his F1 career and we talk from time to time. Clearly if we are seen together in the paddock a fuss comes out, but the relationship has remained.

“I don’t want to compare him to our drivers, that would not make sense. But the contribution of a top driver is not only driving, it’s also technical, strategy, help in hiring an engineer. And in this case if you have Hamilton, [Max] Verstappen but also Leclerc it’s easier.

“Those who work in F1 are passionate about racing, they like to work with Champions.”

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In light of the rumours linking Hamilton to Ferrari in May, Vasseur admitted at the Monaco GP that no team would turn down the opportunity to sign a driver of his stature. However, the Frenchman was insistent that no approach had been made.

“We are not sending an offer to Lewis Hamilton, we didn’t do it,” he commented. “We didn’t have discussions.”

“I think every single team on the grid would like to have Hamilton at one stage, it would be bull**** to not say something like this.”

Hamilton first joined Mercedes from McLaren a decade ago, winning six titles in seven years following the introduction of F1’s V6 hybrid rules in 2014 to equal Michael Schumacher’s long-standing record of seven World Championships.

He became the first driver in history to surpass 100 grand prix wins and pole positions the following year, but remains without a victory since the penultimate round of the 2021 season in Saudi Arabia.

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