Race Weekend Central

Slipstream Saturday: Is Lewis Hamilton Staying at Mercedes?

The answer is yes.

Well, a probable yes.

Lewis Hamilton’s contract is expiring at the end of the Formula 1 season, and although an extension has not been signed, Hamilton and Mercedes have both remained adamant that a deal is on the way.

Why is this a story? Well, this has been a question now for months. They were close back in March and are still close in June. Above anything, I think it’s most telling that the first thing Toto Wolff mentions in that interview above is money.

The reality is that there really isn’t a great option for Hamilton to go to, barring a major surprise. Williams, Haas and AlphaTauri are all too small for him to go to. Aston Martin, Alpine and McLaren are booked up. Red Bull isn’t an option with Max Verstappen on staff.

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Alfa Romeo/Sauber would be an option with Valtteri Bottas not having signed an extension yet, but it would be a bad idea for Hamilton in particular to go there as they will be in a transition period over the next couple of years. Maybe there would be fruit ripe enough on the Audi tree to pick in 2026, but Hamilton would have wasted the last years of his 30s driving for a Ferrari customer team.

Speaking of Ferrari, that’s really the only team on interest. And even then, they would need to break Charles Leclerc’s or Carlos Sainz‘s contract a year early in order to facilitate Hamilton. Moving to Ferrari may have made a little more sense a year ago, but now it would seem like a lateral move at best with Mercedes’ better pace this year.

Hamilton could always retire. But that would do damage to his legacy, as ultimately many would remember him last for coming so close to winning an eighth championship at Abu Dhabi in 2021.

He’d definitely still walk away to many as the G.O.A.T. or at least in the conversation. It wouldn’t help his argument, however, if he were to walk away right now.

In fact, I can’t imagine Hamilton choosing to walk away until either he gets that eighth championship or he becomes too slow to justify his ride. And the reality is that he’s potentially many years away from that, judging by how solid Fernando Alonso has looked this year.

Speaking of Alonso, one interesting aspect of this weekend for him and the Aston Martin F1 team is that the Strolls are, well, Canadian. Team owner Lawrence Stroll has given the team the goal of a double podium on Sunday (June 18), which will be a rather interesting task. Alonso himself seems fairly bullish on the idea.

This column is written following the practice sessions on Friday; as of press time, there is a high chance of rain in the forecast for Sunday. If it does, it would greatly assist the green team in this goal.

It’s not controversial to say that Lance Stroll is the weak link of this team. But Stroll has had success in wet weather in the past and could make up a bit of the gap between him and Alonso.

It’s going to be interesting to see who the second fastest will be this weekend. Mercedes has a ton of momentum thanks to their double podium at Spain a couple of weekends ago. But Ferrari could always make a comeback this weekend, and Aston Martin will be motivated after their slow Spain result.

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The battle in the back is also going to be interesting. Nyck de Vries is still on the hot seat at AlphaTauri, and will have to deal with Williams rolling out a new update package for Alex Albon this weekend.

Right now, AT has two points to Williams’ one in the constructor’s battle. Both Albon and Yuki Tsunoda have proven themselves this year as team leaders going forward and should be fairly equally matched. The key in the battle for ninth will be between the two rookies.

Logan Sargeant has struggled this season, but he doesn’t seem to have nearly as much pressure on him than de Vries does. That lack of pressure may well help Sargeant develop and potentially pick up a crucial point or two later on in the season.

Inversely, the pressure on de Vries may well be a positive this summer. Sometimes a driver can find an extra gear when they have the weight of their world at their fingertips; sometimes it leads to a bunch of wrecked race cars. For AlphaTauri’s shake, they should be hoping it’s the former and not the latter.

About the author

Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.

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