JEDDAH, March 18 — Lewis Hamilton wants to stay at Mercedes but team boss Toto Wolff said on Friday he would have “no grouch” if the seven times Formula One world champion felt a need to look elsewhere in future.
The 38-year-old Briton is out of contract at the end of the 2023 season and has not won a race since his record 103rd in December 2021, with Mercedes struggling to provide a competitive car.
Mercedes had the fourth fastest car in the season-opener in Bahrain, with Hamilton telling reporters he reckoned Red Bull had a second and a half advantage per lap.
“I don’t think Lewis will leave Mercedes,” Wolff told reporters at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix yesterday.
“He’s at the stage of a career where we trust each other, we have formed a great bond among each other and we have no reason to doubt each other even though this is a difficult spell,” added the Austrian.
“It will be so nice when we come out of this valley of tears and come back to solid performances.
“As a driver, nevertheless, if he wants to win another championship he needs to make sure he has the car.
“And if we cannot demonstrate that we are able to give him a car in the next couple of years then he needs to look everywhere. I don’t think he is doing it at that stage, but I will have no grouch if that happens in a year or two.”
Hamilton has been part of the Mercedes ‘family’ throughout his career, with the German carmaker joining McLaren in backing him through the junior series, and the Briton reiterated on Thursday that he had no plans to go anywhere else.
He has won six of his titles with Mercedes, the other in 2008 with McLaren using Mercedes engines.
Mercedes won an unprecedented eight constructors’ titles in a row until last year when Red Bull, with Max Verstappen taking a second drivers’ title, dethroned them.
They have since recognised the concept of their car is wrong and they need to go back to the drawing board.
“At some point during the year we’re hopeful we might be able to close the gap but at that point it will probably be too late in terms of fighting for a championship,” said Hamilton on Thursday. — Reuters