Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has reaffirmed his commitment to securing a contract extension for Lewis Hamilton before the end of 2023.
Hamilton’s contract is set to expire this year amidst another underwhelming start to the season for the typically dominant German squad.
Work is already going into undoing the damage from the winter break and changing the direction of development for the W14.
Mercedes has spent most of the last decade as the team with a target on its back, so this new position in the chasing pack is something of a novelty for the team.
Lewis Hamilton experienced his first win-less year in 2022, demonstrating the extent of Red Bull’s control of the F1 Championship over the last year.
The Austrian team has maintained this dominance with the RB19, establishing itself as the team to beat for the second year in a row.
Rumours have swirled about whether Charles Leclerc (despite his 2024 contract with Ferrari) could be tempted to sign with Mercedes in the event Hamilton retires.
However, Toto Wolff has made sure to dismiss any speculation linking the Silver Arrows to the Monegasque:
“The only time that I talked with him [Leclerc] was when we discussed where the gate is in Melbourne to board the plane,” the Mercedes boss joked to Sky Sports.
“Charles is a super guy, and for the long-term future, someone you have to have on your radar – but not for the short or medium-term.
“Nobody doubts Charles’ ability, and he is a good guy. He is 100% committed to Ferrari, and we are 100% committed to putting pen to paper with Lewis.”
Wolff’s comments are congruent with many of Lewis Hamilton’s statements, with the 38-year-old adamant that his desire to compete in F1 remains strong.
His performances in 2023 demonstrate, much like Fernando Alonso, age is not a limiting factor for the British World Champion.
With that said, Hamilton’s career has consisted of race-winning and often championship-contending machinery, which Mercedes does not seem to have delivered with the W14.
In this later stage of his career, the Brackley-based team must prove to Hamilton their development trajectory will be steep enough to catch Red Bull in the foreseeable future.