Wolff ‘no grouch’ if Hamilton looked to leave Mercedes
By Mat Coch
Saturday 18th March, 2023 - 4:08am
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff admitted he wouldn’t blame Lewis Hamilton if he looked outside of Mercedes in his quest to win another F1 world title.
The seven-time world champion’s current contract expires at the end of the year with speculation beginning to mount over what he’ll do next.
At 38, the Brit is now the second oldest driver on the grid with the current campaign his 17th in Formula 1.
Hamilton has won six of his titles with Mercedes and all seven with the German marque’s engines.
He claimed his last world crown in 2020 before losing out to Max Verstappen in 2021.
Last year he finished sixth in the drivers’ standings, the first season he’d gone without a race win.
It was also his lowest-ever finishing position in the championship.
Mercedes looks set to endure a similar year this time with a car that is, according to Hamilton, up to 1.5s/lap off the pace of Red Bull.
It is against that backdrop that speculation regarding his future has begun to swirl, with suggestions he could leave Mercedes at the end of the year.
Wolff expects Hamilton to stay
“I have no idea what is being said in the silly season,” began Toto Wolff.
“I just know where we are with Lewis and with George [Russell] and nothing else is relevant.
“We are talking; when we want to do it and how.
“We just need to change some terms; the dates, basically.”
Pressed on whether he felt Hamilton would remain with the Brackley operation, Wolff added: “I’m absolutely confident.”
While confident his star driver will remain with Mercedes, Wolff conceded he may need to look elsewhere to find a title-winning car.
“I don’t think that Lewis will, will leave Mercedes,” Wolff affirmed.
“He’s at the stage of his career where we trust each other. We have formed a great bond among each other.
“We have no reason to doubt each other, even though this is a difficult spell.
“But so nice it will be when we come out of this valley of tears and come back to solid performances.
“As a driver, nevertheless, if he wants to win another championship he needs to make sure that he has the car.
“If we cannot demonstrate that we are able to give him a car in the next couple of years, then he needs to look everywhere.
“I don’t think he’s doing it at that stage but I will have no grouch if that happens in a year or two.”
Speculation Hamilton could leave Mercedes
Hamilton has not shied away from the challenge facing Mercedes and has stated that he is committed to his current employer.
He’s also dismissed speculation from world champions Damon Hill and former team-mate Jenson Button.
“It’s ultimately people creating rumours without facts, it’s never helpful,” Hamilton said earlier this month.
As recently as last year, Hamilton suggested that his current F1 deal would be his last.
He signed his most recent deal midway through the 2021 season, coming after a protracted period of discussion in which he briefly became a free agent following the end of the 2020 season.
That was a one-year deal to cover 2021, before agreeing to an extension through to the end of 2023.
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