Lewis Hamilton is fighting for his Formula One racing career as Mercedes HQ consider his request for a new five year contract. The British world champion has been noticeably more affable since his early season rant at the team’s technical department for not “listening” to him over the car design.
The failure on Toto Wolff’s part to produce a new contract in a “few hours” is now believed to be because Hamilton’s demands can only be ratified by Mercedes HQ in Stuttgart.
Mercedes hope of closing gap to Red Bull, forlorn
Yet despite the apparent ‘relaxed’ attitude Lewis is bringing to each F1 race weekend, there are signs the pressure behind the scenes over his uncertain future is building.
For the first time time since he joined Mercedes, Hamilton is not in his usual position of strength as he arrives at the point of renegotiating his contract.
This will be the third season Lewis will fail to land an F1 world championship and despite the recent Mercedes upgrade Hamilton’s hopes his team can close the gap to Red Bull for 2024 look forlorn.
Gone are the ‘devil may care’ days of Hamilton’s youth where his jaunty humour was a regular feature in his media interviews. Lewis famously did an Ali G impression following the 2011 Monaco Grand Prix.
Hamilton jokes around in Monaco
Having been hauled up in front of the stewards at five of the first six races that season, Hamilton was asked by the BBC why he thought this was the case. “Maybe it’s because I’m black! That’s what Ali G says. I don’t know…” was Hamilton’s chippy response.
At this years Canadian Grand Prix Hamilton resumed battle with his nemesis Fernando Alonso. Off the line Lewis made the better start, passing Alonso and taking second place from the Spaniard.
However Alonso was quick to respond. Getting a run on Hamilton out of turn 11 the Aston Martin surged past his former team mate into the braking zone at turn 13.
For the remainder of the race Alonso appeared to easily manage the gap to Hamilton heading into the final 10 laps of the race.
Fernando mimics Kimi Raikkonen
Hamilton began to make a concerted effort to close down Alonso and the Aston Martin driver’s engineer came on team radio to inform him, “Hamilton is 1.9 seconds behind. 1.9 behind.”
Fernando’s clipped response was,“Copy, leave it to me.”
Close observers of Formula One instantly recounted the Kimi Raikkonen instance which Alonso was mimicking.
At the time the 2007 world champion Finnish driver was racing for Lotus and following a number of detailed radio messages from his race engineer at the 2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the irrigated Raikkonen snorted back, “Leave me alone – I know what I’m doing.”
Hamilton failed to understand the joke
2007 World Champion Raikkonen was known for his one-liners with arguably his most famous the “just leave me alone, I know what I’m doing!” said to his race engineer at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton was questioned over the Alonso “leave it to me” radio message by the media in the post race press conference though he failed to recognise the famous Raikkonen connection
The Mercedes driver was asked about the “leave it to me” message Alonso gave his engineer but told the journalist he “didn’t understand” the question.
The questioner then explained, “What the engineer said to him [Alonso], that you were catching, you were under two seconds and then Fernando said ‘copy, leave it to me’. ‘Leave it to me’.”
“He knows what he’s doing”
Lewis again failed to under stand the humorous reference ironically replying, “I don’t get what the point is. He’s a multi-World Champion so he knows what he’s doing.”
The questioner persisted asking Hamilton, “Is this like a joke?”
Lewis replied, “Ahh… I don’t get it.”
Hamilton then ploughed on to compliment his fellow podium drivers Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso.
Lewis bemoans lack of “level playing field”
“It’s a privilege to be up here fighting these two who’ve done incredible in their careers,” said Hamilton.
“And this is quite an iconic top three. I don’t know if there’s been a top three like this ever before. I don’t believe there has.
“But yeah, so hopefully there’ll be more and hopefully, as Fernando said, there’s a lot of respect between us as we were able to race so closely and trust in one another.
“I’m really hoping at some stage we have more of a level playing field in our cars, and then we’ll have a much more exciting race, I think in the future.”
Hamilton new contract mired in Stuttgart
Lewis was supposed to be announcing his newly signed contract with Mercedes this weekend, however he revealed it is currently mired in the in tray of Mercedes auto manufacturer CEO Ola Kallenius.
“We had a good meeting just recently. They are very complex contracts. It’s not just a simple driving contract,” Hamilton revealed in drivers’ press conference last Thursday.
Hamilton’s management team are believed to be demanding a ten year Mercedes brand ambassador role for Lewis as part of his final F1 contract however the team is only owned one third by Mercedes who sold down their stake recently to INEOS.
Clearly the team based in Brackley and formerly known as Brawn and Honda cold easily change ownership in the next ten years and be renamed to something other than Mercedes.
So the ambassador role Hamilton craves can only be sanctioned and paid for by Mercedes HQ in Stuttgart and presently the company’s CEO appears not to be playing ball.
This move though. 😮💨
— Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team (@AstonMartinF1) June 19, 2023