The big news of the weekend that should have been all about a Formula One race in Imola turned out to be the story revealed by the Daily Mail that Ferrari were attempting to lure Lewis Hamilton to Maranello. The details were surprising when it came to light that the iconic Italian racing marque were offering the seven times F1 champion just £40m.
Lewis Hamilton was reported in February this year as requesting a $270m valued final contract that would see him race for Mercedes until the end of 2025 and become a brand ambassador of 10 years.
“Low ball offer” to Hamilton
When compared to this, the Ferrari proposition looks to rather on in cheapskate arena.
Sky Sports reporter Ted Kravitz believes the Scuderia have misjudged their recruitment approach completely.
“Firstly, I think the £40m offer is a bit of a low-ball offer for Lewis Hamilton,” he stated on the latest episode of the Sky F1 podcast.
“It’s probably £5m less than what he’s on at the moment – and is something Mercedes are going to offer as part of not only the remainder of his driving career, but also a longer-term association with the Mercedes brand which is valuable to Lewis.
Ferrari brain drain significant
Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur has admitted he is on a big recruitment drive following the revelation Ferrari were to lose some big names next year.
David Sanchez head of vehicle concept is heading to McLaren while Laurent Mekies is sett become the boss of Alpha Tauri when Franz Tost steps down next year.
“To lose two persons in 1,600, it’s not a drama,” said Vasseur. “The power of the team is always more important than the individuals.
“The group is there, we are recruiting massively — that we are not communicating, but we are recruiting massively — and we will do step by step.
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Ferraro offer “everybody” a job
Vasseur has the look and feel of a rabbit in the headlights or to use an different analogy the last man on deck as the Ferrari ship slowly sinks into the abyss.
Kravitz suggests there is an air of desperation about Ferrari’s big recruitment drive.
“I think Ferrari are offering everybody a job for anything at the moment. Everyone is on Ferrari’s shopping list because Fred Vasseur says he is going to put together a crack team of amazing people around Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc to make them realise this is incredible.
They even offered Adrian Newey a job with big money!”
Ferrari offer should be £80m
That said given the reported amount Ferrari were prepared to offer Lewis Hamilton, it could be the offer to Newey was I fact insulting. Kravitz goes on to explain the kind of headlines Ferrari should in reality be creating.
“They are after the best and the biggest in Formula 1 at the moment as they seek to rebuild so it shouldn’t be a surprise if they offer Lewis Hamilton everything. If it was £80m that John Elkann had said then that would get people’s attention.
“I don’t think he’s likely to go, maybe if he wins the elusive eighth at Mercedes once they get the car right eventually then potentially he might go and see if he can win another one with Ferrari but he may be into his 40s by then.”
Put simply, last season Ferrari looked as though they would be the main challengers to Red Bull and were even in with a hope of a championship after a 14 year drought.
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No pull for Hamilton from Maranello
Yet the departure of Mattia Binotto and the all new SF-23 car have failed to ignite this years challenge and the Ferrari drivers are languishing in P5 and P7.
This is hardly the Ferrari Lewis Hamilton would wish to join given his own team, who by their own standards are poor, sit comfortably ahead of the Scuderia at present.
Sky F1’s anchor Simon Lazenby believes there’s no significant pull from Ferrari at the moment.
No guarantee Mercedes return to top
“Having looked at the first five races of the season, I just think why would he bother moving at the moment?
“I understand the lure of Ferrari, but when you look at them for the last 15 years they have been serial underachievers – they’ve been a team in constant transition. Whereas Mercedes have the pedigree, they made one philosophical mistake and now they’re in transition.
“Maybe that transition period will take last year, this year and they know they’re already a year behind if these upgrades get them to the point where they’re on a track that they can play development war with Red Bull from the start of next season.
Yet the Ferrari story reveals Mercedes are not guaranteed a return to the top of the sport. Their dominance was predominantly due to the arrival of the V6 Turbo Hybrid era and a reported $1bn spent on the development of by far and away the best power unit in Formula One.
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Of course Mercedes customer teams also had use of the power train, but customer teams haven’t won F1 championships since the days of the much loved Ford DFV engine over four decades ago.
The next realistic opportunity for Mercedes is in 2026 and the arrival of the next generation of power units. However, unlike for 2014 there will be restrictions on how much each manufacturer can spend on developing their engine and so again much of the Mercedes competitive advantage in spending power will be nullified.
Ferrari’s alleged approach for Lewis Hamilton and the value they placed upon recruiting an F1 superstar does not portray the current management at Maranello in a good light.
Further, the appeal of working for Ferrari isn’t what it was. As teams have grown in number to some 1500 in the headcount, the opportunity to stay in England close to family and friends is clearly a bigger pull than going to work for the once irresistible Prancing Horse emblem.
READ MORE: Red Bull admits it won’t win at this circuit
Did you forget where to go, Jenson? 😅
A quick jog to the podium for Button after victory in 2009 🏃♂️#F1 #MonacoGP pic.twitter.com/SSv4bH4NdP
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 24, 2023