Mercedes-AMG team boss Toto Wolff has made a bold claim regarding the future of Lewis Hamilton, believing that the Brit driver will stay with the Silver Arrows 'til the end of his career.
Hamilton is now in his fifth campaign with Mercedes-AMG and his record with the team stands at an impressive 34 victories and two titles.
It has not been plain sailing for the 32-year-old, though, especially during last season, where his fierce rivalry with then teammate Nico Rosberg caused a divide in the Silver Arrows support team.
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Hamilton’s fractious relationship with Rosberg came to a head when he disregarded team orders during the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi.
Coincidentally, it was also the race in which Rosberg clinched the title and led to Wolff to suggest that he might have to take disciplinary action against Hamilton.
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All that is now in the past, with team boss Wolff insisting that Hamilton’s relationship with Mercedes has improved in the last year.
Although, the Austrian did hint that if the question was asked a year ago the answer might have been very different.
Wolf admitted: “If you would have asked me the same question one year ago, I would not have been very optimistic, but now it is different.
“This is very strong now, and I am not speaking only about on-track performance because there are going to be difficult moments, but I am speaking about the relationship.
“After five years, this relationship has become so strong in a way that it wasn't last season.
"For Lewis, it will be important to see whether we are competitive or not, but at the moment there is such a solid basis that I can imagine it going on forever.”
Rosberg’s sudden retirement at the end of the 2016 season after winning his first and only F1 championship, and the arrival of 27-year-old Finn Valtteri Bottas from Williams has changed Hamilton’s mind-set, according to Wolff.
The Austrian was full of praise for Hamilton and his contribution to the team this season.
“I have known Lewis now since 2013 and he has developed every year, as racing driver he is almost faultless.
“Definitely the biggest positive development I have seen between 2013 and now happened over the winter and after Nico left the team.
“Drivers are sometimes viewed within teams as contractors and they will always look after their own agenda rather than the team's interest, but Lewis is now in his fifth year with us and that has changed. He has become a part of the team.”
Hamilton takes an eight point lead over Ferrari into Monaco as he continues his quest to become the first Brit to win four F1 championships.
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