Yet another deadline is now looming over the finalisation of Lewis Hamilton’s 2016 contract: Barcelona. “Everything will be fixed by the Spanish grand prix on May 10,” Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda is quoted by the Swiss newspaper Blick. Hamilton’s new deal has been delayed and discussed publicly for so long that many have linked him with a move to Ferrari. Also rumoured is that Hamilton wants clear number 1 status, and that Mercedes is not agreeing to his wage demands.
“The salary is not the problem,” Lauda insisted. And fellow Mercedes chief Toto Wolff as well as Hamilton himself and teammate Nico Rosberg have all denied the ‘number 1’ speculation. Bernie Ecclestone had even said ahead of last weekend’s Bahrain grand prix that Hamilton would make a good teammate for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in 2016. “That’s a little difficult,” the F1 supremo is now quoted by Speed Week, “when he has extended at Mercedes, don’t you think?”.
But the fact remains that Mercedes has not announced a done deal. Ferrari chief Maurizio Arrivabene appears to be enjoying the Hamilton rumours, as he says every driver wants a red cockpit, while Kimi Raikkonen performs best when under pressure. It might be argued that Vettel would prefer his friend Raikkonen to stay. Asked if he has a say in whether it will be Raikkonen or Hamilton at Ferrari next year, Vettel is quoted by f1-insider.com: “That’s not true.”