Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes ‘no longer need’ F1 star after 2021 as Max Verstappen move backed

Mercedes “no longer needs” Lewis Hamilton after this season claims Tom Coronel amid uncertainty over the Briton’s future with the team. Hamilton signed a new contract on February 8 but only one 12 months in length, sparking speculation he may retire at the end of 2021.

The 36-year-old enters his 15th season in Formula One this year knowing if he clinches a fifth successive Drivers’ Championship he will move on to an unparalleled eight world titles.

That would surpass the seven managed by legendary German driver Michael Schumacher, the record he set back in 2004.

Hamilton is the huge favourite for this year’s title after finishing 124 points clear of team-mate Valtteri Bottas last year, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen down in third.

But with Hamilton highly likely to reach 100 race wins and 100 pole positions, if he clinches an eighth title then many feel he may be willing to step away from the sport having felt he has achieved everything.

The Mercedes driver has many passions outside of F1 and after a 23-race 2021 season may well be keen for a break – though he has said he will only retire when he no longer has the same passion for motorsport as he does now.

But Ziggo Sport F1 analyst Coronel believes Hamilton will be contemplating ending his F1 career later this year once all the records are broken.

And Coronel can see Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, or Mercedes junior driver George Russell who is currently driving for Williams, coming in to replace Hamilton, whose salary is claimed to be twice as big as any other driver on the grid.

He told “I’m sure he’s thinking about that. First of all: Lewis is a real racer. But this will be his toughest season ever, with 23 Grands Prix.

“Every driver has had a long season at the end. The question is: do you want to live or be lived? Boys like Lewis are being lived.

“I’m 48 and if I can race somewhere, I’ll throw everything out for it. Wedding, birthday, it doesn’t matter.

“But I can imagine that Hamilton is fed up with an eighth world title after the busiest year ever. With eight titles you are no longer Lewis Hamilton, but God.

“Then you are done. I don’t know why you would go any further if you broke all records.

“Contract negotiations with Mercedes have been difficult this year. You can see that both parties did not go in full.

“It’s very simple: Mercedes no longer needs Hamilton. There is no future for him there, except transferring a lot of money to his bank account.

“Guys like Russell and Max, you can live on that for the next 10 years.”

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Verstappen has been tipped to replace Hamilton for Mercedes having won 10 Grands Prix for Red Bull since his debut at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.

The 23-year-old is widely regarded as the second fastest driver on the grid behind Hamilton.

And asked about the speculation this week, the Dutchman said: “At the end of the day, I don’t know what Lewis is going to do.

“I just focus on myself. I’m very focused on this year and trying to make it a success.

“It’s so early in the season, with only a shakedown [of the RB16B at Silverstone], that those kinds of things I’m not really thinking about at this stage.”

While Red Bull team principal Horner recently admitted: “I’m sure that should Lewis decide to stop, then Max would naturally be the driver at the top of the list, but they also have George Russell.

“They’ve also got other drivers obviously available to them. It’s all down to relationships and us producing a competitive car.

“There’s no guarantees for 2022 [when sweeping new regulations are introduced]. It’s a complete clean sheet of paper.

“So if there’s going to be a significant mix up of the order, one would assume it’s going to be with that big regulation change.”


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