In the week prior to the Monaco GP, TJ13 reported that Nico Rosberg had signed a new multi-year deal. This was confirmed in July, but by now the talk of a Hamilton new deal was already underway.
Almost a year on the matter of Mercedes World Champion driver’s seat for 2016 is still not confirmed, though it appears Mercedes’ Toto Wolff is now most keen to push matters forward.
When asked whether the matter of Lewis’ contract was critical giving the growing threat on track from Ferrari, Wolff replied, “Of course, Lewis is a factor and an exceptional guy in the car.
“I think like always in life it needs to be a win-win situation and at the moment it is a win-win situation. We have a very quick guy in the car and we have a very quick car.
“We have a solid foundation in the team; we have built an organisation which can be successful on a sustainable basis long term.
“With Ferrari bouncing back very strongly, it’s a win-win.”
The rhetoric from Toto is interesting, because it may not be just the threat on track from Ferrari that Mercedes should concern themselves with.
During the Bahrain 2015 F1 weekend, the Ferrari team principal fielded questions on Kimi Raikkonen’s new contract and whether Lewis Hamilton would be replacing him next year.
“I’m happy with the drivers we have.” said Arrivabene.
However, the matter of a contract extension for Kimi is not on the near horizon.
“This doesn’t mean that I want to sign tomorrow with Kimi. We were very, very clear, I repeat again and again, I said to Kimi look it depends on your performance”.
Arrivabene believes that the very lack of contract was the motivation behind Kimi raising his game and claiming a podium position in Bahrain. Given this thinking, Kimi is unlikely to be putting pen to paper any time soon.
The Scuderia boss also attempted to play down the rumours that Hamilton could replace the ‘Iceman’ in Maranello for the 2016 season.
“Did Lewis Hamilton call you? Because he never called me!” quipped Arrivabene. “Every driver here in the paddock they want to drive for Ferrari, this is normal. Even guys that were quite a lot of times world champion.”
This less than convincing denial will fuel the ‘Lewis to Ferrari’ rumours even further – and why not?
Momentum is certainly with the red team at present and Mercedes have so far proven failed to demonstrate they have what it takes to respond and re-establish their dominance.
One saving grace for Kimi is that James Allison is fighting the Finn’s corner. The Ferrari technical director knows well from his Lotus days that the ‘Iceman’ can deliver on track; when driving quickly whilst maintaining tyre preservation are a necessity. This is a key design philosophy of the FS15-T.
So for now, it may well be that the contractual states of Hamilton and Raikkonen are intrinsically linked.
Whilst Kimi is driving for his F1 future he is simultaneously buying Lewis more and more time to see whether the winds of change are blowing in a favourable direction.