Fresh off an extremely successful F1 season, rumours are circulating that Lewis Hamilton is set to sign a deal with the Prancing Horse and switch his loyalties from his team of three years, Mercedes. According to these rumours, exacerbated by the fact that Hamilton is yet to renew his contract with Mercedes, he was set to replace recently-returned Ferrari driver and F1 legend Kimi Raikkonen.
At the recently concluded Bahrain Grand Prix, Raikkonen, in second place, split Hamilton and his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg. Raikkonen’s Ferrari teammate, former world champion Sebastian Vettel, who has 40 Formula One wins to his name, did not place on the podium, coming in fifth.
Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene denied talk of Hamilton being signed by Ferrari, going on to say that the Iceman’s performance merited a contract renewal, describing him as a “great driver” who “deserved to renew his contract”, but this had not yet been done as he did not want “drivers to fall asleep”, claiming the psychological pressure would keep drivers’ performance from slacking.
Although he acknowledged that Raikkonen’s contract had not yet been renewed, he rubbished rumours claiming that he had been contacted by Lewis Hamilton, who was allegedly looking to drive for Ferrari, saying “Does Lewis Hamilton call you? He never calls me.Every driver here in the paddock wants to drive for Ferrari, this is normal, even guys that were quite a lot of the time world champion”.
While Ferrari had outperformed Mercedes during practice sessions at the Bahrain GP and had by all accounts seemed the stronger team, race results did not seem to suggest this. Arrivabene acknowledged Ferrari’s recently slacking performance, saying they needed a renewed, “aggressive” strategy if they were to compete with Mercedes, who are enjoying renewed success at Formula 1. Hamilton himself echoed these sentiments, saying that he found it “great to be having a fight with the Ferraris”, and that Mercedes were still the ‘best team in the world.’ He has in recent interviews said he is extremely comfortable with Mercedes and their vehicles, and that he felt he was “able to get everything from it.”
For now, all indicators point to no major change in the F1 team structure, but we will have to wait and watch.