Team boss wasn’t fazed by Lewis Hamilton rumours ahead of ‘hot property’ signing

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton looking concerned in the Mercedes garage with a prominent Ferrari badge alongside him.

Lewis Hamilton next to Ferrari badge.

Although aware of the rumours linking Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari, Zak Brown says that wasn’t a factor in McLaren’s decision to re-sign Lando Norris back in January.

Even before the first laps had been turned into the new 2024 Formula 1 cars, there was movement – or best to say lack thereof – in the driver market in January as Charles Leclerc committed his future to Ferrari while Norris re-signed with McLaren.

A week later news broke that a race seat is available with the Mercedes team for the 2025 season after Hamilton’s surprise decision to leave for Ferrari.

McLaren didn’t want to play a part in silly season ‘drama’

Leclerc and Norris, committed to their respective teams, are out of the running.

That, though, was not a factor in McLaren’s early decision to re-sign their British star.

“We were aware that there was potentially some movement, but that didn’t really have anything to do with Lando,” Brown told Sky Sports. “We’d signed him up.

“Previously, we’re just waiting for him to get back to actually make the announcement.

“But we knew that Lando and of course Oscar, but we had Oscar signed up for a while, both are hot properties.

“So it was less about knowing specifically what was going on with Lewis and Ferrari and Mercedes as much as knowing Lando is top of everybody’s list and ours included.”

Although the exact duration of Norris’ latest contract has not been confirmed, McLaren only said in their press release that it was “until at least the end of 2026”, Piastri’s deal runs to the end of 2026.

That means neither McLaren can be caught up in the silly season “drama”, as Brown put it.

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“We had a really strong second half of the year, and I think Lando has got the same confidence we do in the team and belief in ourselves. And so it was great to get him signed up,” the McLaren CEO continued.

“And I think, what I’ve really focused on is bringing stability to the team.

“So with our new hires, or your existing team, Andrea [Stella], technology infrastructure, we’re just trying to keep our head down, be focused, and there’s some drama going on in the sport at the moment we don’t want to be part of.”

But contrary to Brown’s statement, his drivers are still in the silly season mix with former F1 driver Christian Danner adamant there “must be no legal or monetary obstacles” – not even “contracts” –  standing between Toto Wolff and his best possible line up.

Karun Chandhok, meanwhile, claims Piastri would be a “good” candidate to partner Russell with the former F1 driver saying there is likely an escape clause in his contract that could make that possible.

“We know Oscar has got a contract with McLaren, but Mark Webber has negotiated plenty of F1 contracts in his past and I’m sure there’s got to be an escape clause somewhere, as we’ve seen with Lewis there’s an escape somewhere,” he told Sky Sports’ F1 Show.

“Oscar’s debut season was brilliant. He had weaknesses in his race pace, no doubt about it, but he has another year of experience to build on that.”

“I think Oscar and George as a line-up at Mercedes is a good one,” he added.

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