Damon Hill believes the pressure is on Mercedes not Lewis Hamilton in terms of renewing the seven-time World Champion’s contract.
Hamilton is three races into the final year of his current Mercedes deal and as of yet no extension has been confirmed despite previous comments from the team suggesting it would be completed over the winter break.
There are still 20 races to go and plenty of time for Hamilton to make his mind up but the onus is now on Mercedes to sort out their future for next season.
Former F1 racer Hill believes that is the case and said Hamilton is waiting to see how Mercedes pull themselves back to the top of the grid before committing to anything.
“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 Elliot 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.”
Allison’s return comes a few weeks after Hamilton complained the team did not listen to him in regards to the car’s design and Hill did believe that would have been a factor in the reshuffle.
“I think it probably was a combination,” the 1996 World Champion said. “It was abundantly clear to everyone that Mercedes was not the car of the previous era.
“The car looks different in many ways to other cars, notably the Red Bull or the Ferrari, and the question was raised back in the beginning of ’22. When the car came out, [we thought] is this the right way to go? We’ll find out.
“2022 didn’t look like it was the right way to go. ‘23 comes along and still no race winning car. So I think that it was obvious. I don’t think it needed Lewis to point it out. But I think Lewis has been vocal and I think that he’s just really echoing what everyone else has been feeling and saying.
“I think that the team knows that they’ve got Toto Wolf who ultimately will bang heads together. I think he has done that and said ‘listen, we’re not going to have any more of this. We need to make a change. I don’t care what it is. If it looks like a Red Bull, I don’t care as long as it’s the winning car.'”