Toto Wolff is said to have doubts about the British driver as the ever-tangled web of rumours surrounds the Charles Leclerc – Lewis Hamilton switch, this is despite Lewis Hamilton recently having emphasised more than once that he is not yet considering the end of his career in Formula 1.
Hamilton has also frequently confirmed that the 38-year-old sees his future in motorsport’s top class at Mercedes. However, a media report from Spain now attaches surprisingly little importance to this fact.
Allegedly, Mercedes is toying with the idea of replacing the record world champion Lewis Hamilton with Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc next year. This is what the Catalan online newspaper “El Nacional” claims.
According to the paper, the idea is based on the fact that Brackley is allegedly no longer convinced of Hamilton’s performance. A claim that can at least be considered audacious.
Wolff harsh critic of Hamilton?
Although Hamilton’s contract expires at the end of the year, team boss Toto Wolff, whom “El Nacional” explicitly lists as a critic of Hamilton, has already made it very clear that a stay is only a formality.
“I’ve been working with Lewis for eleven years now, and every time a contract expires, the speculation starts,” Wolff explained recently on the sidelines of the Miami GP.
“But we always handle it the same way, we work on it quietly, it’s really just changing a few numbers and a few times, but it’s all in the doing and it’s just a matter of time before we sign it then.” Hamilton also confirmed, “I feel a strong inner drive and I want to stay here for quite a while.”
In mid-March, Wolff also said he would “not be angry” with Hamilton if he looked at other teams if Mercedes did not provide him with a car capable of winning, but he simply did not believe the Briton was considering it at the moment.
Wolff more of a confidant than a critic of Hamilton
“I don’t think Lewis will leave Mercedes,” Wolff explained, basing this not least on himself:
“He is at a stage in his career where we trust each other. We have built up this close relationship with each other and we have no doubts about each other, even if we are going through a difficult phase sporting-wise. But it will be so nice when we can finally get out of this valley of tears and deliver strong performances again.”
So far this season, Mercedes is only third behind Red Bull and Aston Martin, with Hamilton ranking fourth in the drivers’ standings with 56 points, a long way behind world championship leader Max Verstappen.
That Leclerc, whose contract with Ferrari does not end until the end of 2024, would achieve better results may be questioned. The Monegasque is having a debacle year with the Scuderia.