With several reports suggesting that British driver Lewis Hamilton could move away from Mercedes after the 2021 campaign, Formula One boss Stefano Domenicali has stated that he is also unsure if Hamilton will resign a new deal with leading constructors Mercedes.
Hamilton’s contract saga seems to have been the sports worst kept secret for the past few years and with the break between seasons currently happening at the minute, the rumour mills are in overdrive at the prospect of Hamilton moving somewhere new.
The facts are that the current F1 drivers champion is secured by Mercedes until at least the end of next season, and was expected to sign a new contract in March, but that was put on hold when the pandemic struck and stayed that way while Hamilton went in search of his seventh F1 title.
That of course, came when winning the Turkish Grand Prix in November, with both constructor and driver admitting that they would then turn their attentions to agree the finer terms on a new deal.
However, there has yet to be any signs that conversations have progressed, and with only a matter of weeks before the start of the new campaign, Mercedes have yet to seal the deal on the driver that has brought them so much success over the past decade.
Despite speaking with Hamilton in the past month, Domenicali told Sky Sports Italia that he still wasn’t sure if Mercedes would get their man.
“I have spoken with Lewis, we talked during the Christmas period. He is preparing. He is not telling me if he will sign or not sign the renewal with Mercedes.
“Of course, he has a great opportunity, not only speaking about the sport itself, to have the numbers and with that be known as the strongest in the world. He also has the opportunity to continue to have a role that goes beyond sports.
“To be champion is one thing, but it’s another to do it in another dimension. I am convinced and I hope, as an interested party, that everything can be resolved quickly.”
Despite the seeming stalemate between Mercedes and Hamilton, the constructor is believed to have already begun discussion with a replacement if Hamilton decides to reject the deal that is on the table.
With Hamilton likely to be persuaded to join the famous red of Ferrari by 2020, Mercedes have George Russell waiting in the wings to take one of the most prestigious seats on the Formula One circuit.
Changes to Formula One
Along with the concerns over Hamilton, Domenicali also spoke to Sky Sports in England to discuss how he intends to make some positive changes in his new role as the F1 chief.
“[The drivers] will be at the centre of the future of Formula 1. I think that they represent the real soul of our sport – their faces, their ability. I would say to interpret them, not only as drivers, but as the ambassadors of our sport. They will be crucial for the future.
“We didn’t have in the last decade so many good drivers as we have now. We have incredible young drivers, there is an incredible record to be achieved for Lewis, for others, so the challenge there is great.”
Despite the regular reports on Hamilton, the bookmakers still see him as the hot favourite for the 2021 F1 season, and have him installed in the outright odds as the 2/5 market leader for the Drivers’ Championship.
Max Verstappen could be hot on his wheels at 5/1, while teammate Valtteri Bottas could make it a season to remember as the 11/2 third favourite for the top drivers gong.
In terms of the constructors’ championship, Hamilton’s current team Mercedes are also the favourites at 1/4, with the bookies deeming Red Bull to be their nearest rivals at odds of around 10/3, with Ferrari next on the list at 14/1.