Lewis Hamilton contract: James Allison’s return ‘doesn’t change anything’

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton on the grid in the Mercedes W14. Australia April 2023

Seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton on the grid in the Mercedes W14. Australia April 2023

Lewis Hamilton has downplayed talk James Allison’s return to the role of technical director at Mercedes could be the key to his own future.

The seven-time World Champion is out of contract at the end of this season and although his team boss Toto Wolff spoke back in January about getting a deal done in the winter still, months later nothing has been confirmed.

While it had been speculated Hamilton was waiting to see the car Mercedes put on the track this season, that switched to the Briton waiting to see whether or not Mercedes could improve on that.

In a bid to do that, Mercedes have not only opted to “start of a new path”, as Hamilton put it, in their development of the W14 but they’ve also reinstated Allison as their technical director.

He’s back in the role he left in 2021 while Mike Elliott, who had succeeded him as technical director to helm the designs of the W13 and W14, has replaced Allison as the team’s chief technical officer.

But while Hamilton says it’s “going to be great for the team”, the 38-year-old has denied Allison’s return to the technical director role could be the key to him re-signing with Mercedes.

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“It doesn’t change it,” he told Sky Sports of his future.

“I mean James was already there, he was in our team already. I’m grateful to know, it gives me confidence we’ve got Mike and James together, but we already had them in the team.

“I think what continues to give me confidence within the team is how everyone stays so focused, everyone’s continuing to push, the energy at the factory is amazing.

“The values in which Mercedes continues to work on representing, presenting everywhere we go, both on track and off track, is I think really inspiring.

“And, yeah, it’s my family.”

But while Hamilton says Allison’s return to his former role won’t have an impact on his decision to stay or not, 1996 World Champion Damon Hill ponders whether it was done to prove to the Briton that Mercedes are willing to make changes to improve.

“I think Lewis can probably wait a little bit longer before he feels confident,” Hill told Sky Sports News. “I can’t imagine that Mercedes are pressuring him.

“I think they know they’ve got some things to sort out. They’ve made some changes in their design team structure. James Allison, who was the design guru guy, coming back now from having designed yachts back to putting his focus on a Formula 1 car and Mike Elliott who used to do that job, now moving on to chief technical officer overseeing the whole group.

“So a bit of shuffling around. I think maybe you could read that as being some sort of sop to Lewis to make him realise that they are going to make changes here at Mercedes so that they get a competitive car going forward.”