Imola may have been cancelled but that does not mean the Formula 1 drama has stopped. The latest twist in the tale has linked the seven-time World Champion with a move to a rival franchise ahead of the 2024 season.
The first Italian Grand Prix of the year had to be cancelled due to the disastrous flooding which has engulfed much of the Imola region of Italy and while this meant there was no action on the Emiliano Romagna circuit, it did not stop the rumour mill from driving up fresh interest in Lewis Hamilton’s potential move for next season.
Latest reports from the paddocks have suggested that Ferrari, a fierce rival of Mercedes, have offered the 38-year-old a £40 million deal to continue his pursuit of an eighth world title with the Italian team. Mercedes, who have struggled to compete with Red Bull in the past two seasons are set to bring their first big upgrades to the W14 car this weekend in Monaco and depending on the success of these changes, we could see the Silver Arrows legend in red next year.
What is Hamilton’s Mercedes contract?
Hamilton’s current contract with Mercedes will run out at the end of the 2023 season. He has been with Mercedes since 2013 winning six of his seven world championships with them.
During the 2020 season, Hamilton had failed to agree a new deal before his contract expired but eventually went on to sign a one-year deal in February 2021. This evolved into his present contract later in July when he signed a two-year deal.
What has Hamilton accomplished this season?
The 38-year-old is sitting fourth in the drivers’ championship following the first five races. He is 63 points behind the leader, Max Verstappen, but 12 points ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz as well as 22 points ahead of Charles Leclerc.
Leclerc, also with Ferrari, has been another with transfer rumours swirling around him following yet another disappointing season with the Italian Horses. There had been noise the Monegasque could join the Silver Arrows but Mercedes Team Principal made it clear the team were focusing on Hamilton’s contract before looking elsewhere.
What’s been said?
Speaking on Sky Sports F1 podcast, Simon Lazenby questioned why Hamilton would move to a team which appears further away from championship contention then the team he is currently with: “Having looked at the first five races of the season, I just think why would he bother moving at the moment?” he said.
“It’s not like anybody else, apart from Aston Martin, have made gains. Christian Horner was saying post-race in Miami ‘where are the others? I understand the lure of Ferrari, but when you look at them for the last 15 years they have been serial underachievers - they’ve been a team in constant transition.
“Whereas Mercedes have the pedigree, they made one philosophical mistake and now they’re in transition - maybe that transition period will take last year, this year and they know they’re already a year behind if these upgrades get them to the point where they’re on a track that they can play development war with Red Bull from the start of next season.”
Ted Kravitz also pointed out that the offer of £40 million seemed to undervalue the seven-time champion and believes Hamilton would not leave his current team until he had claimed the record-breaking eighth title with them: “Firstly I think the £40m offer is a bit of a low-ball offer for Lewis Hamilton - it’s probably £5m less than what he’s on at the moment - and is something Mercedes are going to offer as part of not only the remainder of his driving career but also a longer-term association with the Mercedes brand which is valuable to Lewis.
“I don’t think he’s likely to go, maybe if he wins the elusive eighth at Mercedes once they get the car right eventually then potentially he might go and see if he can win another one with Ferrari but he may be into his 40s by then.”