Mercedes or Ferrari? Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton faces tough decision

Lewis Hamilton’s current contract with Mercedes ends next year and may coincide with Sebastian Vettel choosing to leave Ferrari, possibly for Mercedes. (AP)
Updated 02 December 2019

Mercedes or Ferrari? Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton faces tough decision

  • Hamilton had little time to bask in the glory of his stunning dominance of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
  • ‘Naturally, everything that happens behind closed doors is always private with whoever you end up sitting with’

ABU DHABI: Lewis Hamilton has admitted he will be torn between loyalty to Mercedes and the novelty of a new challenge at Ferrari when he considers his options for what is expected to be his last racing driver’s contract in Formula One.
The 34-year-old Briton had little time to bask in the glory of his stunning dominance of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix before being pressed to talk about his future and a possible switch from the Silver Arrows to Ferrari.
The six-time world champion was circumspect, however, in his answers during post-race interviews in which he declined offers to deny that he had already spoken to the Italian team’s chairman, John Elkann.
Hamilton’s current contract with Mercedes ends next year, leaving him free to move for the 2021 season when Formula One ushers in a radical new set of rules that may coincide with Sebastian Vettel choosing to leave Ferrari, possibly for Mercedes in a dramatic swap with Hamilton, or to retire.
Hamilton, owner of two high-performance Ferrari road cars, made clear that he is simply looking around to weigh up his options beyond next year when he may equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven drivers’ championship titles.
He also made clear that he is in no rush to make any decisions, a position applauded by his current team chief Toto Wolff who may also be considering his future when the sport shifts into a new era.
Wolff said he felt there was a 75 percent likelihood that Hamilton would stay and sign a new contract, likely to be his last as an F1 driver, with Mercedes — but he said also that there was a clear 25 percent chance that he may move.
“Naturally, everything that happens behind closed doors is always private with whoever you end up sitting with,” explained Hamilton after winning his 11th race this year, his fifth at the Yas Marina circuit and the 88th of his career.
“For many years, I have never sat down to consider other options because we have been driving straight ahead on the path we have been on. We are still on that path and there is very little that is going to shift that.
“I love where I am so it is definitely not a quick decision to do something else, but it is only smart and wise for me to sit and think of what I want if it is the last stage of my career.
“I want to keep winning. I cannot tell you what is going to happen moving forward. I love where I am so it is definitely not a quick decision to do something else.”
Italian news media reported last weekend that Hamilton had held two meetings with Elkann this year — discussions that Wolff appeared to know of when he was asked about his and the Englishman’s futures.
“I hope that our relationship continues, but, equally, there is a 25 percent chance we are not in control of,” said the 47-year-old Austrian, tipped as a potential overall boss of Formula One if he can be tempted to leave Mercedes.
“We will see how the next months pan out ... A sports team is not static. It is dynamic. That means there is always going to be change — and change can provide opportunity. If one important member of the team breaks out, that provides risk, but also an opportunity....”
As Hamilton was besieged amid the end-of season parties, Vettel joked and put the record straight after a season in which he was beaten by his team-mate Charles Leclerc and last week became a father for a third time.
The rising Monegasque star claimed Ferrari’s first win of the year, triumphed at Monza, secured most poles and finished ahead of the four-time champion German in the drivers’ championship.
Asked by reporters about his future plans, Vettel said: “Holiday.... I think I was already doing a holiday next year as I heard before that I am stopping... I don’t know who started the rumor, it seems they know more than me.
“But, since you journalists are always right, it will hit me probably in the next weeks.”


Riyadh to host inaugural Saudi international cycling race

Updated 22 January 2020

Riyadh to host inaugural Saudi international cycling race

  • This new race represents an exciting organizational challenge, a coherent sporting event for an entire category of riders

JEDDAH: Sports chiefs are gearing up to announce the Saudi city venue for a new international cycling race set to take place in the Kingdom.

Chairman of the Saudi General Sports Authority Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal is expected to reveal on Thursday that Riyadh will host the five-stage Saudi Tour 2020 from Feb. 4 to 8.

The inaugural edition of the 2.1 category race is being staged by Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the organizer of the world-famous Tour de France.

Details of the route in and around the Saudi capital were due to be released during a press conference at Riyadh’s Digital City.

The cycling event precedes the Tour of Oman (Feb. 11 to 16) which is facing cancelation following the death of Sultan Qaboos.

ASO chief executive, Yann Le Moenner, said: “We are involved in the emergence of a new racing scene in the Middle East, which corresponds to the riders’ demand at the beginning of the year.

“The creation of the Saudi Tour and its sustainable installation in the calendar is part of this movement. This new race represents an exciting organizational challenge, a coherent sporting event for an entire category of riders, and a nice opportunity for the television viewers who follow the race to discover new landscapes.

“This is also, for us, an occasion to contribute to the development of cycling across the Kingdom,” he added.

Saudi Cycling Federation chief Sabah Al-Kraidees said it was an “honor” to have the inaugural Saudi Tour, noting that the event would help to promote the Kingdom as a tourist destination.

“The Saudi Tour is a great opportunity to publicize the country’s varied territories and historic sites and to let visitors discover our sense of hospitality. This initiative fits perfectly with the ambition of Saudi Arabia to promote the Kingdom beyond its borders through sports and especially cycling,” he added.

The five-day event will feature stages in the hills around Riyadh and on urban circuits.

The Kingdom recently began issuing tourist visas after travel to the country was largely limited to pilgrims, business travelers and resident workers.