Lewis Hamilton wants to remain at Mercedes but team boss Toto Wolff told reporters he would have “no grouch” if the seven times Formula 1 world champion felt a need to look elsewhere in the future but does not believe he will.
38-year-old Hamilton is out of contract at the end of the 2023 F1 season and has not won a race since his record 103rd in December 2021, with Mercedes struggling to provide a competitive car.
Mercedes had the fourth fastest car in the season-opener in Bahrain, with Hamilton telling reporters he reckoned Red Bull had a second-and-a-half advantage per lap.
“I don’t think Lewis will leave Mercedes,” Wolff told reporters at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Friday. “He’s at the stage of a career where we trust each other, we have formed a great bond among each other and we have no reason to doubt each other even though this is a difficult spell.
“It will be so nice when we come out of this valley of tears and come back to solid performances. As a driver, nevertheless, if he wants to win another championship he needs to make sure he has the car.
“And if we cannot demonstrate that we are able to give him a car in the next couple of years then he needs to look everywhere. I don’t think he is doing it at that stage, but I will have no grouch if that happens in a year or two,” added Wolff.
Lewis is staring at another long season of pain
The Briton has been part of the Mercedes ‘family’ throughout his career, with the German carmaker joining McLaren in backing him through the junior series, and the Briton reiterated on Thursday that he had no plans to go anywhere else.
He won six of his F1 titles with Mercedes, the other in 2008 with McLaren using Mercedes engines. The German team won an unprecedented eight constructors’ titles in a row until last year when Red Bull, with Max Verstappen taking a second drivers’ title, dethroned them.
They have since recognised the concept of their car is wrong and they need to go back to the drawing board.
“At some point during the year we’re hoping we might be able to close the gap but at that point, it will probably be too late in terms of fighting for a championship,” said Hamilton on Thursday.
Previously he has stated he intends to stay with Mercedes, the only engine make he has driven since his F1 debut back in 2007. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)