The 2019 Formulation 1 season is now not quite executed however already minds in the sport are turning to the long hump – and specifically that of Lewis Hamilton.
Stunning powerful the final prime drivers are out of contract at the live of next year, so the 2020 switch market promises to be specifically attention-grabbing. And Hamilton will be at the centre of it.
The sector champion has by no manner indicated any wish to head away Mercedes, however he has inevitably been linked to Ferrari on and off via his occupation, and this weekend has considered the most up-to-date example.
Italy’sGazzetta dello Sportran on Saturday with a splash headline saying Hamilton had met Ferrari chairman John Elkann twice this year, in what the paper said became as soon as an strive by Ferrari to “chat him up”.
That followed crew boss Mattia Binotto saying in a info conference in Abu Dhabi on Friday: “Lewis is certainly an worthy driver, a fine driver. Realizing that he is readily accessible in 2021 can contrivance us only jubilant, however honestly or now not it is too early for any decision.
“We’re relaxed with the drivers we beget bought for the time being and I contain undoubtedly at one stage next season we can originate discussing and dealing out what to make.”
- Hamilton takes pole in Abu Dhabi as Ferrari mess up timed lap
- Warning! Formulation 1 2019 review comprises Vettel
- Vote for your moment of the 2019 season
Earliest ‘silly season’ ever?
In F1, the driver switch market continuously called the ‘silly season’. There became as soon as a time when it came about in August and September sooner than the next year. It has been creeping earlier however right here’s potentially the first time it has began sooner than the live of the season sooner than the one in question has even began.
Probably or now not it is a reflection of the truth so many mountainous names will be out of contract at the live of the year – Mercedes drivers Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, Crimson Bull’s Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel are undoubtedly readily accessible. The build of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is less clear, as whereas he is believed to be on a long-term take care of Ferrari, the actual nuances of it are now not publicly readily accessible. So presumably him, too.
Inevitably, Binotto’s feedback and the Gazzetta story proved a first-rate talking level on Saturday at the Abu Dhabi Immense Prix, and Hamilton became as soon as asked about it.
“This is the first time I’ve heard of that,” he said, regarding Binotto’s remarks. “I contain that is the first compliment I’ve had from Ferrari in these 13 years.
“I honestly make now not bear in mind them ever citing me, so thanks, I will clutch it. Doesn’t in reality mean anything, or now not it is all discuss however yeah, or now not it is good that at final… or now not it is taken all these years for him to recognise perchance, however I’m grateful.”
Pressed on whether he might well well be drawn to a switch to Ferrari for 2021, Hamilton said: “It’s by no manner a shatter of time to be good to any individual. It has been a long, long time and a crew that I’ve always preferred over time, in an effort to form their appreciate from any individual from there who’s clearly very excessive up is clearly now not a unhealthy reveal.
“They’ve bought two gargantuan drivers as is, so who’s aware of what the driver market’s going to be doing over the next year?
“But if I’m in reality true, I’m now not seemingly targeted on that true this 2d: looking out for to be hump I make off solid. I’ve bought this fantastic crew of those that rent me where I am and I in reality feel fancy I lawful continue to owe it to them to present my coronary heart to them and my power 100% to them, specifically as I’m gathered in contract and negotiations have not began yet.
“I honestly make now not know how the next section of the months goes to head in terms of contract. It’s entirely uncommon that or now not it is a must-must make it virtually a year sooner than it ends and it would’t be performed towards the live, however that is lawful the manner it goes. We shall search.”
Wolff relaxed about Hamilton exploring alternatives
When Hamilton has been asked this query in the previous, he has always tended to emphasise the strength of his bonds with Mercedes, how long they beget got been collectively, the truth he has been supported by them since he became as soon as 12.
In Brazil two weeks ago, he said: “Whilst you’ve got been with a crew for see you later, we are more or less joined at the hip. All that shrimp part can clutch its time. It’s no proper stress, our phrase is our bond has been all these years and we beget always had that. Mercedes since I became as soon as 12 beget always stood by their phrase and vice versa.
“But or now not it is a must-must intention a whereas aside to claim: ‘The build are we? What’s the next blueprint? What else are we planning?’ Because it rolls over for the long hump. And that in itself would be time-drinking. And, certain, even as you beget build one thing in build you are always later: ‘Oh damnit, we might well need performed this.’
“It’s looking out for to beget as powerful foresight as doable. But I in reality have not stumbled on it distracting in the seasons after we beget got been doing it via a season, so it is now not about speeding issues.”
Hamilton will beget plenty to weigh up when he makes this decision. As he seeks to encourage a success so long as he stays in F1, he’ll are looking out for to beget the most life like automobile. But he might also beget an search on Mercedes as a designate and the strength of their relationship and the contrivance in which powerful they’re going to make collectively in some unspecified time in the future, long after he hangs up his helmet.
In Abu Dhabi, Ferrari neither confirmed nor denied whether Hamilton had met Elkann; a spokeswoman simply said she did now not know.
At Mercedes, crew boss Toto Wolff became as soon as also asked about it, and he said: “I am entirely OK with that. This is a free world and I recognise that each person wants to acquire occupation alternatives and contrivance the exact decision for themselves, drivers and each person else.
“So I am very originate about this. I in reality beget began to contain the truth that each person has targets and wants to beget the exact doable different for his occupation so in that appreciate I am completely originate for each person to acquire alternatives. My non-public priority for the crew might well well be to continue this a success trot, we are in reality benefiting from a wholesome relationship.
“How the values all via the crew are, loyalty and integrity are main on the checklist and dealing out Lewis’ build and targets will be key for any decision we clutch.
“We can’t embark on a fishing mission with doable drivers available sooner than Lewis and us beget had that discussion. That hasn’t taken build because we wished to wrap up the season and we wished to search how it goes. We beget now a consensual relationship. We desire all aspects to be jubilant.”
Will Mercedes preserve in F1 previous 2021?
There are other complexities on this, as smartly – now not least the truth no crew is contractually dedicated to F1 previous 2020.
The teams are in negotiations with F1 over the financial terms of their contracts and beget been for a whereas. The uncertainty – and the complexity of the global automobile market – has resulted in hypothesis as as to if Mercedes will continue in F1 previous next year.
Hamilton said on Thursday: “Mercedes is right here to preserve.” Asked whether that became as soon as affirmation they might perchance well be in F1 previous 2020, he added: “It’s now not an announcement however I am rather certain Mercedes is right here to preserve. The board people are right here this weekend so I will double-discuss over with them. They’re all ******** racers and I am rather certain they’re looking out for to preserve.”
The entire indications are now he is correct because F1 works for Mercedes both financially and in the case of exposure.
In 2018, the F1 crew’s total funds became as soon as £338m, and additionally they spent £311m. Daimler’s price exposure on that became as soon as in the predicament of 10-15%, taking into story sponsorship and other profits.
And Ola Kallenius, the chairman of the Daimler board, said in an investor call on 14 November: “F1 has been an exercise in the case of our advertising and marketing and branding approach that has paid off handsomely in the final few years. You’ve to search info from at these investments in a rational contrivance.
“We weigh all our advertising and marketing and media funding in the case of reach, impact and price. Need to you exercise the Nielsen methodology to measure the media designate of our F1 activities, they’re north of €1bn a year. So an frightful reach and impact from this exercise. And the costs – that we wouldn’t fancy to record publicly – are comely low because there’s a price and income facet in F1. We’re dedicated.”
Appropriate now, the trim money might well well be on Hamilton persevering with in F1 in 2021 and staying with Mercedes.
As Wolff said: “Racing drivers are always going to comprehend a search info from at to be in the quickest doable automobile, and the quickest automobile is regularly going to comprehend a search info from at to beget the exact racing driver in there. So there’s a true consensus between us as to what we try to attain.
“We beget now to push very animated to give the drivers with the quickest doable automobile and if we are in a position to make this, I am 100% happy we can beget the exact doable driver line-up and all the pieces aspects to our relationship persevering with. But in lifestyles you by no manner know.”
Every other dawdle all over the block
Hamilton has bought what he wished in Abu Dhabi to this level – a pole build to live a season whereby the perfect minor blot on his file had till that level been that crew-mate Bottas had more poles than him.
Hamilton had made it clear that irked him, so he became as soon as happy with a superlative lap to contrivance them 5 each and each in the case of poles and which build Hamilton 14-7 ahead on their qualifying head-to-head.
He is hot favourite, too, to comprehend his 11th clutch of the season, which might equal his excellent tally for a year.
Bottas has been demoted to the back with a penalty for the usage of too many engine ingredients and on the face of the weekend to this level, neither Crimson Bull nor Ferrari search info from quite on Mercedes’ level.
Verstappen said: “We lawful gave the affect to lack pretty of grip when put next with them. They’re always in reality dominant on this note and we are lawful lacking pretty too powerful in that final sector.
“We beget now to be sensible and I contain Mercedes is in reality rapid however we can provide it all the pieces we beget got in the hump.”
But Mercedes are cautious of all threats and whereas Ferrari weren’t competitive on the soft tyre in qualifying, Hamilton identified that Leclerc had topped 2d qualifying on the medium tyre, albeit Mercedes had now not performed a 2d hump, and Wolff said Ferrari’s hump tempo on the animated in Friday put collectively had also been spectacular.
The Ferraris being on smash up programs – with Leclerc beginning on the medium fancy Hamilton and Verstappen, and Vettel on the soft – also complicates issues.
“Crimson Bull became as soon as the strongest when put next with us on the long runs however Ferrari are snappily on the straights and that affords them overtaking different,” Wolff said, “and I contain all of us will beget a probability for the victory the next day to come to come.”
Hamilton has walked the championship however the racing has been terrific for powerful of the year. Abu Dhabi is now not primary for difficult races – to claim the least – however it’d be good to live the season on a excessive.
Not many would guess against Hamilton, though.