Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has confirmed that the team are not yet planning for the possibility of Lewis Hamilton walking away at the end of the F1 2023 season.
Hamilton is into the final year of his Mercedes contract, meaning a new deal must be struck to keep him at the team beyond the F1 2023 campaign.
And after a rocky start to the season for Mercedes which left Hamilton frustrated and claiming that the team had not listened to his feedback for the W14, now the situation has swung back towards Hamilton giving a verbal commitment to the team for the rest of his F1 career.
Nonetheless, Wolff recently made the admission that if the situation of 2022 and 2023 continues where Mercedes cannot give Hamilton a title-worthy car, then he can understand Hamilton assessing his options in the coming years as he pursues that record-breaking eighth title.
That being said, now at the age of 38, Hamilton is definitely entering the latter stages of his Formula 1 career, making it more likely that if he cannot see a clear and fast-approaching route to title number eight, he could choose to call it a day after the current season.
That possibility is not though one which Wolff has in any way prepared for.
“I think it may sound naïve, but I really struggle to think of a Plan B, if my Plan A is still the one that is my favourite,” Wolff told Motorsport.com as he discussed Hamilton’s future.
“I don’t want to engage in discussions with other drivers, because I’m happy with the ones that are in the team, that’s for sure. At the moment, there is no Plan B. It’s Lewis.”
But, if Hamilton did decide that enough was enough after F1 2023, then Wolff is confident that the Brit would not just leave them in the lurch and in need of a sudden search for a replacement.
He said: “I think that he would tell us early enough, I don’t think that Lewis would say: ‘I can’t do this anymore. I’m out of here tomorrow.'”
Lewis Hamilton will likely give Mercedes at least another year
It is a huge boost for the Mercedes team that Hamilton has put his continued loyalty to the team on record, confirming ahead of the Australian GP that he sees himself “being in Mercedes until my last day”, adding that he did not feel like the time had come to step aside for a younger replacement.
Such comments then effectively confirm that Hamilton will continue with Mercedes, because it is difficult to see another team on the grid where Hamilton would be better off in pursuit of that eighth title.
Red Bull are of course the golden ticket in that respect, but the team has already confirmed that there is no room at the inn for Hamilton, while Aston Martin team owner Lawrence Stroll would need to make the unimaginable move of sacking his son Lance for there to be an opening for Hamilton at that team.
Ferrari meanwhile seems no stronger bet than Mercedes for future title success.
All signs then point towards Hamilton penning a fresh Mercedes deal.