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

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

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.”


France’s Stephane Peterhansel wins Dakar Rally for 14th time

France’s Stephane Peterhansel wins Dakar Rally for 14th time
Updated 15 January 2021

France’s Stephane Peterhansel wins Dakar Rally for 14th time

France’s Stephane Peterhansel wins Dakar Rally for 14th time
  • Peterhansel, nicknamed ‘Mr Dakar’, has now won the car category eight times

JEDDAH: France’s Stephane Peterhansel on Friday won the Dakar Rally for the 14th time, 30 years after his initial success in the most gruelling event on motorsport’s calendar.
Peterhansel, nicknamed ‘Mr Dakar’, has now won the car category eight times, having also won the motorbike category six times.
The 55-year-old Mini driver, aided by co-pilot Edouard Boulanger, finished ahead of Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota), with Spain’s Carlos Sainz rounding out the podium in another Mini.
Peterhansel’s victory came shortly after news that French motorcyclist Pierre Cherpin had died from his injuries after a fall, becoming the race’s first fatality this year.
Argentina’s Kevin Benavides won the motorbike category, leading home defending champion Ricky Brabec of the United States in a first Honda 1-2 since 1987.
Briton Sam Sunderland, the 2017 champion, finished third.
Benavides, who broke his nose in a crash on the fifth stage that saw his helmet shattered, became the first South American to win the category, calling it “absolutely crazy.”
“I went at 110 percent, but now it’s true: I’ve won the Dakar — I’m so, so happy! I did some mistakes, for sure. I think it’s impossible to do a perfect Dakar,” he said.
“The important thing is to always continue, to stay calm and focused day by day and to work hard day by day.”
Brabec admitted to feeling “pretty bummed” at not defending his title, but added that “number two will work.”
“I didn’t even know that Honda had already won a one and two finish. I wasn’t even born in 1987! It’s cool to go one and two again.”