Ferrari - Mercedes and Leclerc - Hamilton, what replacements are possible in the future
Not even six stages of the season 2023, and F1 community is already filled with news about the confirmed contracts and rumors about transitions and replacements for next year. Mercedes and Hamilton attract the most attention, as well as Ferrari and Leclerc.
Mercedes' contract with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton comes to an end at the end of this year, and a new one has never been signed. The team said that negotiations are ongoing, but so far the parties can not find a compromise. First of all, Mercedes is no longer as competitive, and, of course, Hamilton strained by the fact that he has no opportunity to fight for victories and podiums, not to mention the title. A couple of months ago, Lewis even said he wouldn't leave Formula 1 without an eighth title. Secondly, this year Hamilton lost the status of the most highly paid pilot, this title passed to Max Verstappen. There were some comments from Toto Wolff, and most importantly he said that:
It's not easy to talk about money with a friend.
I'll do what's best for Mercedes.
Lewis himself has said many times throughout his career at Mercedes that he is ready to race for the German team until retirement, but it seems that against the backdrop of everything that is happening these words begin to lose value. Despite this, in a recent interview Lewis said that the contract is almost signed and there is nothing to worry about.
"Naturally when you're in contract negotiations there's always going to be speculation. Ultimately, unless you hear it from me, that's what it is. There's a certain individual in this room that's written at least one of them. Maybe last weekend with the race being cancelled they just got bored. As I said, my team's working closely behind the scenes with Toto. We're almost at the end of having a contract ready."
In parallel, all is not so quiet at Scuderia Ferrari. The current contract of Charles Leclerc runs until the end of 2024, and there are already rumors about his negotiations with Mercedes. Toto declares that with Charles he communicated only once, and it was in Starbucks, and there is no talk about the contract. Frederic Vasseur and Charles Leclerc himself entered the arena with him. Monegasque said that so far he does not negotiate with either Ferrari or Mercedes and that in fact he is not very happy with the situation in which he finds himself:
"No negotiations have been started. Ask Fred when he plans to start discussions. I'm fully focused on the track. I love Ferrari. I'm not happy with the current situation. Let's face it. Ferrari has to be on top. I hope we can do it together.
The head of the team Ferrari also remained unhappy with the spread of news about the transition of both pilots to other teams in a couple of years:
As a joke I could say that two weeks ago you send Sainz to Audi, one week ago you send Leclerc to Mercedes, now I'm alone. We didn't have discussions. I think every single team on the grid would like to have Hamilton at one stage.
Most of the sources who publish statements about the transition of Hamilton to Mercedes, are considered the yellow press, but as we know in such situations can not be trusted at all sources, even the drivers themselves. It can all be called just PR. It's possible that these are thrown in by agents and PR people to raise the price of the pilot or to attract attention to him, as if to say that this pilot wants a lot of people, so you should offer him something profitable, so that he was with you.
Rumors fly quickly, managers and pilots say that everything remains as it is now. But against the background of unsatisfactory results of both Ferrari and Mercedes, there are already too many rumors that may well become a reality. At the moment there is an assumption that Sainz will leave the team, and his place next to Charles will take Hamilton. But this has not yet been commented on.