Lewis Hamilton at Ferrari? On the eve of the last GP of the season, in Abu Dhabi, the Circus that is Formula 1 is already on its way to next season, which should see a more uncertain fight to the world title with Ferrari and Red Bull determined to oppose the domination of Mercedes.
For the drivers’ market front, thoughts are turned to 2021, given that in 2020 we will see the contracts of the two richest and most titled drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, expire.
According to ‘La Gazzetta dello Sport’ in Maranello they have gone ahead with their work, with reports that Ferrari President John Elkann has already met the world champion twice in 2019 in order to understand the willingness of Lewis Hamilton to move to Ferrari, undertaking a new task, help Ferrari win again.
A kind of bombshell moment? Not really as the rumours for this move have been going since this time last year with the latest at Silverstone, but what has added more fuel to the speculation and willingness for Ferrari to name a cost (at any cost) finished with the increasingly difficult coexistence between Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc, resulting in the clash at Interagos.
The German driver could decide to retire after 2020 and Hamilton could take his place, even if the reaction of Leclerc, eager to become the first undisputed driver, would have to be understood. But Ferrari know, Leclerc would still be considered inexperienced even in 2021, and more a risk to rely solely on to bring a Championship to Ferrari once again.
Wolff is keeping his cool, for now. The Austrian Mercedes boss claims that “No problem for Mercedes” should Hamilton move across to Ferrari after the question was posed at Mattia Binotto and Toto Wolff in the press conference on Friday in Abu Dhabi.
“No problem, it is right that everyone, including the drivers, explore the opportunities for their careers and make the best decisions for themselves” he said during the press conference.
“We can only make sure to offer him the fastest car. And if that happens, I’m convinced that we’ll move forward together. But in life everyone has their own goals. If we break up, I’ll be the first to wish him luck.” concludes Wolff.
For Binotto, it seems the Ferrari team boss would welcome over Hamilton saying:
“Lewis is definitely an exceptional driver, a fantastic driver. Knowing that he is available in 2021 can only make us happy, but honestly it is too early for any decision.
“We are happy with the drivers that we have at the moment. Certainly, at a stage in the next season we will start to discuss and understand what to do”.
But other factors must also be considered. First of all, the economic issue. Hamilton has taken out a contract for 50 million dollars (45 million euros) per season for 2019 and 2020. Will Mercedes be willing to offer him an equal or higher amount, considering that the new course inaugurated by President Ola Kallenius is oriented towards austerity?
Indeed TJ13 reported last week that it is this austerity plan and a shift of the manufacturers’ focus away from internal combustion, is likely to present a very real possibility that the works Mercedes team will be sold off and the marketing switch to Formula E, the FIA electric racing series. READ MORE ON THAT HERE.
Further, the Concorde Agreement expires at the end of 2020, which obliges teams like Mercedes to start next year. To extract themselves from it would penalise Mercedes a massive three-digit million range. Far better then to sell the team to an independent buyer, whilst continue to produce hybrid power units in F1 retaining a presence within the sport.
Last race, last lap, for P6 in the Championship……SEND IT!
🎥 @F1 @McLarenF1 @EG00 #carlossainz pic.twitter.com/Y1CCyBXvAs
— Carlos Sainz (@Carlossainz55) December 1, 2019
Mercedes too will have noticed a recent move by the VW Group to quit any participation in motorsport that involves internal combustion engines, starting with the VW brand. READ MORE ON THAT HERE. It is certain that with the global manufacturers feeling the public and government pressure to switch to ‘greener’ solutions, EV’s will soon be the primary focus.
Then we have a degree of history to look back on with Hamilton. Ever since the days of Luca di Montezemolo and Stefano Domenicali, Hamilton has expressed a degree of interest in racing at Ferrari “at some point”, and perhaps if Mercedes do not have a budget, or indeed even a works team that can offer the huge salary Hamilton would demand, the only other team on the grid that could would be Ferrari.
My video Tribute to the @FIA team for the 2019 @F1 season#F1 #AbuDhabiGP pic.twitter.com/ax8rMUZSxV
— Jean Todt (@JeanTodt) December 1, 2019
According to the Gazzetta, there were two distinct meetings between President John Elkann and Hamilton himself during 2019, to talk about F1 and their mutual intentions. Apparently Elkann, number one at Ferrari and FCA is a great admirer of Hamilton, as is the Vice President Piero Ferrari, the only living son of Ferrari’s founder Enzo. Piero was seen yesterday on track in Abu Dhabi, and talking with Lewis Hamilton.
Surely it is simply a matter of time now before we see Lewis Hamilton move to Ferrari. TJ13 welcomes your valued thoughts in the comments section below.
Saying thank you in the best way we could. A guard of honour on the way to the garage pre-race. Danke Nico.#RSspirit @HulkHulkenberg pic.twitter.com/3ydF5vWbnZ
— Renault F1 Team (@RenaultF1Team) December 1, 2019
So where is the real evidence?