Lewis Hamilton has been warned by former rival Felipe Massa that it will be a gamble to leave Mercedes.
The seven time world champion’s £40million-a-year contract with the Silver Arrows expires at the end of the season and his future is under the microscope following their poor start to 2023. Speaking ahead of Sunday’s (7 May) race at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, team principal Toto Wolff described Hamilton’s unruly Mercedes as “a nasty piece of work”.
It is expected that the 38-year-old will extend his stay with the team which has carried him to six of his record-equalling seven world championships. However, Mercedes’ indifferent start to the new campaign has led some to question as to whether Hamilton could shop around, with Ferrari a possible destination.
Hamilton will be 39 in January but the Briton appears determined to win a record eighth title. In Miami, he even raised the prospect of racing into his fifties.
When does Hamilton’s contract with Mercedes end?
The 38-year-old’s £40m-a-year contract is up at the end of the 2023 F1 season. He has not yet signed an extension.
Will Hamilton leave Mercedes?
It is reported that he is expected to remain with the Silver Arrows - but Ferrari has been floated as a possible destination if he decides not to renew with Mercedes for 2024.
What has been said about his future?
Toto Wolff has admitted he would not blame Lewis Hamilton for seeking a move away from Mercedes if the sport’s once-dominant team fails to reverse its slump. The team principal’s comments came following the Bahrain Grand Prix earlier this year.
Wolff remains convinced that Hamilton, 38, will pen a new deal, he also said that his star driver’s head could be turned as he pursues a record eighth world championship. “If Lewis wants to win another championship he needs to make sure he has the car,” said Wolff.
“And if we cannot demonstrate that we are able to give him a car in the next couple of years then he will need to look everywhere. I don’t think he is doing it at this stage, but I will have no complaints if that happens in a year or two.”
Wolff added: “I am absolutely confident [Hamilton will stay]. We are talking when we want to do it, and how, but we just need to change some terms and the dates basically. Lewis is at the stage of his career where we trust each other, we have formed a great bond and we have no reason to doubt each other even though is a difficult spell.
“It will be so nice when we come out of the valley of tears and return to solid performances.”
In Bahrain, Hamilton accused Mercedes of ignoring him on the development of this season’s machine. In 2022 Hamilton suffered his first winless season in F1 in his career.
Former rival Felipe Massa has warned Hamilton that leaving Mercedes would be a gamble. He said: “Anything is possible, but I have doubts that it will happen. The relationship Lewis has with Mercedes is strong and to change that for Ferrari he would need to be sure what he is going to get.
“Ferrari have not proved they have the car to win the championship. Going there would be a bit of a gamble. If he cannot go to Red Bull, which is impossible with Max [Verstappen] there, I would stay at Mercedes.”
Massa, 42, who retired from the sport in 2017, said: “When I go to run I suffer more than when I was 30 or 25. The age will come to Lewis but he still has some years in front of him and you see what Fernando [Alonso, 41] is doing at Aston Martin. Lewis just doesn’t have the car, but maybe that will change.”
What are possible destinations for Hamilton if he leaves?
Red Bull could have a vacancy at the end of the year with Sergio Perez operating on a 12-month deal, but it seems improbable that Hamilton would be paired alongside Verstappen.
Ferrari is a possible avenue to explore if Charles Leclerc elects to engineer a move away.