McLaren was moved on Wednesday to deny wild speculation Lewis Hamilton is set to return to the team in 2015. The British team said the rumour Ron Dennis’ former protege – who is currently leading the world championship for dominant rival Mercedes – had recently travelled to Woking to sign up are “utterly without foundation”. But it would tie in with the climate of sensation in the F1 ‘silly season’ at present, after Sebastian Vettel announced his departure from Red Bull, ostensibly to replace the disgruntled Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso.
Spaniard Alonso has been much more strongly linked than his 2007 McLaren teammate Hamilton with Woking’s looming Honda era. But when asked about Alonso’s rumoured interest in Japan last weekend, team supremo Ron Dennis fascinatingly answered: “There’s no impediment for Lewis Hamilton coming back. There’s no impediment for Fernando Alonso coming back. And there’s no impediment for Kevin (Magnussen) and Jenson (Button) staying”, he told Sky.
Wednesday’s strong Hamilton rumour, however, is new, but it emerged just as the German magazine Sport Bild went to print with comments attributed to the 2008 world champion. “I feel very happy here,” said the Mercedes driver. “For me it’s like a family. The team and I have a positive feeling that we want to keep working together,” Hamilton added.
Hamilton is under contract for 2015 already, and team figures have indicated that talks to extend the deal are to take place. The 29-year-old insisted he has “no thoughts” about leaving the silver arrows. “I never have had. Mercedes is one of the coolest and most traditional brands in the world,” said Hamilton.
Indeed, one of his chiefs at Mercedes – the F1 legend Niki Lauda – thinks it is another former McLaren driver who is returning to Woking to lead the new Honda era. “The agreement (between Alonso and McLaren) was signed last Thursday,” the great Austrian was quoted on Wednesday by Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo.