MEDLAND: Hamilton and Ferrari – wouldn’t it, might it?
I’ll admit it, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was not a traditional, even when it did come alive within the closing phases additional down the sector. Totally different methods all converging within the ultimate laps and quite a few last-ditch overtakes (take a bow, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz) supplied an entertaining end, however when there’s a dominant winner, a race isn’t remembered fondly.
On this weekend’s case, nevertheless, the dominant winner was a part of one thing that may simply make it a memorable grand prix certainly.
Lewis Hamilton was at his best possible on monitor. He struggled on Friday as he experimented with new set-up methods and instructions, however then turned it round, additional rising his pole place document and waltzing off into the space when the lights went out.
However it’s not his efficiency behind the wheel that we have to discuss; it’s his efficiency behind the microphone.
When Ferrari staff principal Mattia Binotto was requested if he wish to signal Hamilton in 2021 — when the six-time World Champion turns into out there — the Italian was understandably well mannered and optimistic in his response.
“Lewis is definitely an excellent driver, a improbable driver,” Binotto mentioned. “Realizing that he’s out there in 2021 can solely make us glad; however truthfully it’s too early for any resolution. We’re pleased with the drivers now we have in the meanwhile, and I feel definitely at one stage subsequent season we’ll begin discussing and understanding what to do.”
The query was really the second a part of one posed to Toto Wolff about Hamilton’s future being tied up with that of the Mercedes staff principal. However it allowed Binotto the possibility to speak the Briton up for 2 different causes: Not solely might it probably destabilize the connection between Hamilton and Mercedes if the previous begins to doubt his future plans, it additionally acts as a warning to Sebastian Vettel to up his sport or threat seeing his seat taken by his rival.
If I’m sincere, at that time of the weekend it didn’t actually really feel like an enormous story on the radar, as a result of there have been causes for it to change into one with none substance. However then Italian each day sports activities newspaper La Gazzetta ran a declare that Hamilton had met twice with Ferrari chairman John Elkann this yr, and the matter gained momentum.
Hamilton was requested about Binotto’s feedback and whether or not Ferrari is losing its time after qualifying on pole, and he was surprisingly open along with his response — simply if you would anticipate him to bat away such a query.
“I feel it’s by no means a waste of time to ever being good to somebody,” was Hamilton’s reply. “It has been an extended, very long time and a staff that I’ve at all times appreciated over time. So to earn the respect from somebody from there who’s clearly very excessive up is clearly not a nasty factor. I feel they’ve acquired two nice drivers as is so who is aware of what the motive force market’s going to be doing over the subsequent yr.”
You possibly can additionally take “somebody from there who’s clearly very excessive up” as being both Binotto or Elkann, particularly when given the context of his Sunday post-race quotes on the subject after being instantly requested if he’d met with Elkann.
“Naturally, the whole lot that occurs behind closed doorways is clearly at all times non-public with whoever it’s you find yourself sitting with…” was the primary a part of that response. Actually not a refusal.
What’s much more fascinating about the entire state of affairs, and what’s each including gas to the fireplace but additionally elevating additional questions is the best way Wolff has responded. The Mercedes staff principal mentioned he could be “completely OK” with Hamilton assembly with Elkann and “could be the primary one to cheer” if the connection between himself and his star driver have been to finish.
Wolff and Hamilton have a powerful and sincere relationship, however Mercedes and Hamilton have a good longer one. To affix Ferrari would imply leaving the corporate he has raced for — underneath the McLaren-Mercedes title after which for the works staff — his complete F1 profession.
Mercedes’ future within the sport has come underneath rising doubt given dad or mum firm Daimler’s announcement it will lower 10,000 jobs because it seeks to prices by round $1.5B by the top of 2022.
Wolff has additionally been linked with Chase Carey’s job as soon as the F1 CEO and chairman strikes on, and maybe Hamilton sees that because the second to leap ship, or vice versa.
Alternatively, it could possibly be that the latest Daimler bulletins have made the Mercedes pair unsure and eager for readability on the staff’s future. What higher approach to speed up that course of than to get folks speaking about the potential for one, and even each, leaving on the finish of subsequent yr?
Earlier than you even take into consideration total business agreements between groups and F1, it’s contract negotiation time for Hamilton and Mercedes, in addition to Vettel and Ferrari, and even Verstappen and Purple Bull. The latter could possibly be the proper substitute if Wolff stays, Mercedes commits however Hamilton goes. Ought to Hamilton keep put, would Verstappen’s latest feedback about Ferrari and its energy unit endear him to Maranello? In all probability not…
The motive force market in 2021 was at all times going to be enjoyable, nevertheless it has kicked off even sooner than anticipated. Huge names are beginning to maneuver themselves into place, and so they wish to know what their choices are.
So, might Hamilton to Ferrari actually occur? After all it might. Sure, to have such hypothesis over Hamilton’s future on the market serves each Mercedes and Ferrari — for the explanations talked about earlier than — however solely at this stage. The rumors serves totally different functions, however between them have actually lit the fireplace this weekend.
Which implies there’s each likelihood somebody might get burned on the finish of all of it.