Could Lewis Hamilton be tempted to move to Ferrari to see out his F1 career? It will take a strong argument from Maranello, says a former F1 racer.
With the 2023 season entering its second half when action resumes next week at Zandvoort, there is still no clarity on what Lewis Hamilton will do next year.
The Mercedes driver is out of contract for next season, with talks and negotiations going on for several months despite both sides showing a willingness to continue. But rumors have swirled all year that Ferrari are trying to lure the seven-time World Champion, adding to the uncertainty.
Can Lewis Hamilton see the appeal of ‘finishing as a Ferrari driver’?
Three-time Le Mans LMP2 winner David Kennedy looked at the ongoing delays between Mercedes and Hamilton as he spoke to PlanetF1.com at Mondello Park last weekend and shed some light on the thought process of a driver starting to consider life after a top-level career .
“I think when a driver knows he’s coming to the end of his career and he’s seen the depth that Mercedes has in terms of engineering, he’s seen the finances that they have, the mentality changes a little bit,” he said.
“You think, ‘Well, this is going to be a really good ticket to retire, that I can be a Mercedes spokesperson and enjoy my retirement with the same family and the same team.’
“Given the length of time they’re there and the relationships you build between the press team and the engineering team and the design team, it’s a lot to walk away from.
“If there was a team that was winning and could get into a winning team, the exit would perhaps be understandable, but there is no one else but Red Bull that does that. And he’s not going to step in alongside Max Verstappen.
“So where should he go? He has all the resources, he has the history, the pedigree.
“I’m sure there are things he’s thinking, ‘Oh my God, wouldn’t it be nice to finish at Ferrari?’ There’s always that little appeal, “I’m going to finish as a Ferrari driver.” This may be the only thing that can tempt him to do something different.
“But I really can’t see him going anywhere other than where he is, unless Ferrari make a really big offer somewhere down the line.”
F1 driver contracts: What is the current contract status of each driver on the 2023 grid?
Lewis Hamilton car collection: Take a closer look at his incredible private garage
David Kennedy: If I were Lewis Hamilton, I would seriously consider changing Ferrari
Kennedy went on to refer to the recent suggestion that Ferrari chairman John Elkann had made a direct move to try and lure Hamilton to the Scuderia, as well as team boss Fred Vasseur trying to turn the British driver’s head away from Mercedes.
“Any driver who has done, what he has done, against all the odds, would be the greatest swan song of his career,” he said.
“He also knows Fred, and Fred will know how to make his case for a race driver, in engineering terms, ‘What can we do, how can we do it and why are we better,’ which is big. ask against Mercedes.
“But it might just tickle his fancy. If I were Lewis, I would seriously consider it.
“I don’t think it’s the money, I think it’s the argument that Ferrari can take to Lewis to show why, in those parameters, it’s a better program.”
Asked if he sees the relationship between Mercedes and Hamilton cooling to the point where contract negotiations have become more difficult, Kennedy agreed.
“When you don’t win, everything cools down,” he said.
“If you’re ready to risk your life driving a racing car, you want to win. Anything outside of that is cool because you don’t win. I mean cool as far as “I’m not happy with where I am”. He believes he should win matches. How does he do that?’
Part of that composure may be because Mercedes sees Hamilton’s performance level starting to drop – the British driver will be 39 at the start of next year’s campaign and the Irish driver believes his age will now be a factor in negotiations.
“I’ll tell you who makes the decision here,” he said.
“The engineers will run telemetry on all their performance over the last two years and tell you, by how much, that performance has dropped.
“They can equalize it, and if they put a value on it financially, that’s another decision, but they’ll see qualifying drop by ‘x’ percent, race pace drop by ‘x’ percent,” mistakes increase by “x”…
“You don’t get faster when you get older. There are no miracles in this business, not yet. And he was very close to being a miracle in being able to produce what he produced.”
Read next: Why David Croft’s proposal to remove the FIA from F1 is ridiculous
#Lewis #Hamilton #faces #engineering #decision #Ferrari #temptation #complicates #talks