Despite assurances from both parties that Lewis Hamilton’s new Formula One contract with Mercedes was a mere ‘formality’ the lack of progress has been astonishing. Toto Wolff recently tried to lead us to believe there were a host of emails travelling back and to containing various numbers that were being bandied around.
Yet Hamilton’s army of fans will remember how the new contract years have played out previously between Lewis and Mercedes and this time its not just about numbers by any stretch of the imagination.
Should I stay or….?
Lewis has a big call to make expressed in the lyrics of a famous song by the Clash and it just doesn’t get any easier as each day goes by.
The much heralded Mercedes’ Imola upgrade will of course no longer arrive this weekend on track since the cancelation of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.
Ferrari are believed to be now holding back their suspension update until after the next race in Monaco because the historic street circuit venue requires such a unique set-up for the F1 cars.
Imola upgrade embedded in W14
Mercedes however have no choice but to stick with the Imola upgrade for the race in the principality because as team boss Andrew Shovlin revealed in a team video, the W14 cars have been modified already as the upgrades are not simply plug and play components.
“We are looking to head off in a different development direction, one that we think gives us a better chance in the long term of being able to challenge for race wins and world championships,” said Shovlin.
Clearly this is not ideal for Mercedes or their drivers as the Monaco track is slow and winding with little room for overtaking. Unless the modified W14’s are in the sweet spot from the moment they start free practice one it could be a long and testing weekend for everyone from Brackley.
Barcelona now a key moment
The pressure will be high on Lewis and George to deliver during Saturday’s qualifying given the lack of overtaking opportunities Monaco presents.
The silver lining to the Imola clouds for Mercedes is the weekend after the Monaco Grand Prix Formula One decamps in Barcelona. And at the track in Montmelo over the years the F1 teams have collected immense amounts of data from weeks of testing and the annual Spanish GP.
Last year Mercedes first big upgrade of the year was launched in Barcelona following a ‘filming’ day test held a few days before the weekend.
Hamilton decision after Spanish GP
It did not bring the much hyped improvement the team believed they would see and now this year the importance of the Barcelona weekend cannot be overstated for Mercedes.
It is likely that based upon how the car performs Lewis Hamilton will make his final decision over another contract with the team.
If as Andrew Shovlin claims the car inspires the belief that it can challenge for race wins and championships then the Hamilton/Mercedes announcement should be swift.
Otherwise whatever Lewis believes are his ‘other’ options and have delayed the ‘formality’ of the signing of the new deal may well become evident to us all as the biggest season back story comes to a climax.
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