Lewis Hamilton is out of contract with Mercedes at the end of the Formula 1 season and, inevitably, speculation that the seven-time World Champion could move to Ferrari is again picking up speed.
The Daily Mail reported on Monday that Ferrari were set to offer the 38-year-old Briton a £40-Million pound ($50.48-Million) deal to race in Red as teammate to Charles Leclerc, with company president John Elkann making the approach.
Italy’s Gazzetta dello Sport said the speculation “would apparently have a foundation of truth” but could not confirm the figures. There was no comment from Mercedes or Ferrari but social media was buzzing.
Hamilton has been linked to the Italian team before – he has at least one of their luxury sportscars in his private car collection – and in 2019 twice met Elkann socially.
Speculation that he might replace now-retired four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel alongside Leclerc came to nothing then, although the German was replaced by Spaniard Carlos Sainz at the end of 2020.
The situation is different now, and there are also a number of reasons why certain parties might want to give the rumor mill an extra shove with this weekend’s showcase Monaco Grand Prix looming.
Hamilton has not won a race since 2021, with George Russell a rising talent within the team, but such speculation emphasizes his continuing superstar status and boosts his bargaining position — even if Mercedes need no reminding.
On Ferrari’s side, Leclerc is a firm favorite but the Monegasque is out of contract at the end of 2024 and, with his patience at times wearing thin, has also been linked to Mercedes.
Asked in April whether he had any conversations with the former Champions, Leclerc replied: “Not yet, not for the moment.”
Hamilton needs a winning car
A move for Hamilton would be a timely reminder from Ferrari that they are not sitting still, although Sainz would not be impressed.
Hamilton needs a winning car to challenge for a record eighth Title and the coming races will be crucial in helping him assess whether Mercedes can provide it, or whether to have a last shot at somewhere else.
Red Bull have won everything so far in 2023 with double Champion Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, but they are not an option. The Champions do, however, stand to gain from anything that distracts their rivals.
Just how seriously Hamilton might consider a move to Maranello remains to be seen, and the Championship’s second oldest driver has in recent months pointed firmly to racing on with Mercedes.
The manufacturer has supported him throughout his career and allows considerable personal and commercial freedom that might not be available at Ferrari.
“I continue to feel very much at home in this family,” Hamilton said at the Australian Grand Prix in April. “I see myself with Mercedes until my last days, to be honest. I have amazing allies within the team, great relationships here.”
While Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said in March he would have ‘no grouch’ if Hamilton felt a need to look elsewhere, he also doubted the driver would leave. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)