Formula 1

Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton.

Toto Wolff explains how and when Lewis Hamilton could leave Mercedes for Ferrari

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Lewis Hamilton must be itching for the new Formula 1 season to start for several reasons.

The 33-year-old driver is chasing his fifth World Championship and fifth straight Constructors’ title with Mercedes as he looks to cement his place among racing royalty.

For all he’s done to pull the German manufacturer clear of Ferrari at the pinnacle of the sport, Hamilton is set to be rewarded with the offer of a record-breaking £40 million-a-year contract.

The proposed deal would be the most lucrative ever in British sport and tie him to Mercedes until at least 2020.

It’s surely only a matter of time before Hamilton puts pen to paper, especially given his enthusiasm towards doing battle with rival teams and drivers ahead of the season-opening race in Melbourne.

Mercedes clocked in more than a second slower than Ferrari during testing in Barcelona, but Hamilton insists he would look forward to the promise of stiff competition in 2018.

“More teams fighting for the championship can only be good," he said, per the Daily Mail.

“Red Bull could be a real challenge this year. The car looks great.”

Unfazed by Ferrari carrying through their speed advantage from last year, the Mercedes star said: “I don’t know if that’s a good time. I don’t know if it was a qualifying run. I don’t really care.

"What matters is where we are in qualifying in Melbourne when everyone’s on lower fuel."

It’s the kind of perspective one would expect a defending champion to have in the lead-up to the first race of the year.


But even with the short-term future of his star driver all but locked in, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is far less certain about what comes after the next agreement.

With Hamilton’s prospective deal due to expire at the same time as Sebastian Vettel’s with Ferrari, Wolff couldn’t rule out the possibility of the Brit finishing his career with the Prancing Horse.

“Lewis is the best driver of the modern generation," said Wolff.

“So of course, I’d like to keep him with us for as long as possible. But he has at least one more contract in him after this next one and Ferrari remain an attraction for every driver.

“He is happy. Our relationship has gone from strength to strength. But of course, during a season things can become tenser.”

Should Hamilton opt for a change of scenery in the twilight of his days on the track, who’s to say Vettel won’t take his seat at Mercedes?

It’s entirely feasible, but the next year or two should give us an indication of just how so.

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