Hamilton ‘almost there’ with new Mercedes deal as Ferrari talks dismissed
By Ian Parkes
Thursday 25th May, 2023 - 11:34pm
Lewis Hamilton has revealed he is “almost there” in recommitting his future to Mercedes, scuppering rumours he could join Ferrari next season.
In tandem, ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur has also dismissed holding any discussions with, or offering a contract to, the seven-time F1 champion.
Hamilton’s remark and Vasseur’s firm denial come in the wake of a report in British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail earlier this week that claimed Ferrari was lining up Hamilton on a £40 million (AUS$75m) per year contract to replace either Charles Leclerc or Carlos Sainz next year.
Clarifying his future, Hamilton said: “Naturally in contract negotiations there is always going to be speculation, and ultimately, unless you hear from me, that’s what it is.
“My team has been working hard behind the scenes with Toto. We’re almost at the end of getting a contract ready. We’re almost there.”
As to a potential announcement, Hamilton added: “Hopefully in the coming weeks.”
Just over an hour earlier, Vasseur had also refuted the specualtion.
Asked whether an offer had been made to Hamilton, or if there was any interest, Vasseur replied: “As a joke, I could say that two weeks ago, you sent Sainz to Audi; one week ago, you sent Leclerc to Mercedes, and now I’m alone.”
That was with reference to the fact both Sainz and Leclerc had been linked with a switch away from Ferrari, despite the fact both drivers are contracted with Ferrari through to the end of next season.
“You know perfectly that at this stage of the season, you will have a different story each week,” added Vasseur. “We are not sending an offer to Lewis Hamilton. We didn’t do it.”
Suggested to Vasseur by Speedcafe that whilst an offer had been made, that did not rule out future talks, he issued a defiant clarification.
“We didn’t have a discussion,” insisted Vasseur.
“I think every single team on the grid would like to have Hamilton at one stage. It would be bull***t to not say something like this.
“If I discuss with Hamilton, I discuss the last 20 years. I discuss (something) almost every single weekend with Hamilton. But I don’t want to have to stop to discuss (anything) with him because you (the media) are chasing me.”
As to whether Vasseur had been forced to sit down with Sainz and Leclerc to reassure them about his future, the Frenchman added: “I didn’t have to. You reassured me last week when you sent Carlos to Sauber, or Charles to Mercedes.
“They didn’t come to see me to say ‘Fred, don’t worry, it’s not true’. We are used to it. We know each week we will have new rumours, and we are just focused on the end.”
Neither will Vasseur sit down with either driver just yet to discuss new deals beyond 2024 as he is too focused on resolving the issues with the car he has inherited following his appointment in early January.
“I told you last week, or two weeks ago, that the most important (issue) for us is to stay focused on the development in the current season,” said Vasseur.
“In a couple of months (the August summer break), we will have a slot to discuss the future.
“I don’t want to discuss with them the extension, and I’ve not changed (his mind). I’ve made my position clear, that the most important thing is to make a step forward, to be able to compete with Red Bull, and that’s the focus.”Sign up here to receive our daily newsletters and breaking news alerts, sent straight to your inbox.
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