Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes have nothing to prove to make me sign new deal

Toby Miles
Lewis Hamilton pointing next to Toto Wolff. Paul Ricard July 2022.

Lewis Hamilton pointing at a screen next to Toto Wolff in the Mercedes garage. Paul Ricard July 2022.

Lewis Hamilton’s future beyond 2023 remains unclear but the seven-time Champion insists that if he continues, it will be a Mercedes contract he signs.

With the 2023 season ready to roll and testing set to begin in Bahrain on Thursday, Toto Wolff revealed that he’d only had his “first conversation” about extending his star driver’s deal prior to the W14 launch.

Hamilton has signed two Mercedes contracts in the last three seasons. In 2021, he and Wolff were still thrashing out the terms of a deal in February, as “curveballs” meant the Stevenage-born driver wasn’t confirmed as part of Mercedes’ lineup less than two months from lights out in Bahrain.

Following his painful defeat to Max Verstappen, Hamilton signed a two-year deal, seeking revenge. Both Wolff and F1’s No.44 are playing it cool but speculation will continue until signatures have been scribbled.

After failing to win a Grand Prix last season and finishing behind team-mate George Russell in a W13 Hamilton said was “not far off” being the worst F1 car he’s driven, is Hamilton waiting to see how the W14 performs on track?

“No, I don’t feel like I need them to prove to me,” Hamilton told press including PlanetF1.com at the W14 launch.

“I think we’ve proven time and time again over the years that we have strength in depth, we still have all these incredibly talented individuals within the team. You don’t lose that ability.

“I think this is the best harmony within the team that I’ve seen all these years and we’ve got a real, fresh young group of engineers and people that have just come into the team over the past year as well.

S”o it’s an exciting time for the team and I don’t plan on being anywhere else. So in that element, that’s that.”

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Hamilton’s 2024 options

Lewis Hamilton might not “plan” on moving to one of Mercedes’ rivals for the 2024 season but in Formula 1, failing to expect the unexpected is simply naive. With a 23-race season ahead, much can change.

The 38-year-old flirted with Ferrari for many years, often speaking of his admiration for motorsport’s greatest organisation. The prospect of Hamilton in red has diminished in recent seasons but the Prancing Horse is on the charge again.

Perhaps Ferrari will come calling if Maranello Charles Leclerc wins the 2023 Championship and Carlos Sainz, who is under contract until 2024, cannot deputise well enough to seal the Constructors’ title. Should Mercedes endure a season as painstakingly frustrating as their last, would Hamilton be tempted?

He wants that eighth Championship… where better to break Michael Schumacher’s record than the Ferrari team that delivered the car that set it?

Snapping Hamilton’s 10-year bond with Toto Wolff and Co would require something at least that seismic. With Max Verstappen tied to Red Bull until 2028 and a return to McLaren unlikely given their progress, better options outside the Mercedes garage don’t exist right now.

With retirement likely to be Hamilton’s next move, the key question is whether Mercedes can deliver another Championship-contending machine.