Ferrari rule out signing Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes for 2016
Valtteri Bottas a more likely candidate if Kimi Raikkonen isn't retained
By William Esler
Last Updated: 14/05/15 12:44pm
Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has ruled out signing Lewis Hamilton as a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen in 2016.
Both drivers are out of contract at the end of the season and the world champion’s negotiations with Mercedes are still ongoing, despite the deal being “99.6 percent done” following the Malaysia GP in March.
Ferrari have an option to retain Raikkonen next year, but the Scuderia boss has made it clear the Finn’s place is not guaranteed if he doesn’t perform.
However, Arrivabene has rejected reports Ferrari are planning to appoint Hamilton as Raikkonen's successor.
“Lewis? No,” Arrivabene told Sky Sports News HQ when asked if he was interested in signing the world champion.
“We are focussed on the current development of the car, we would like to keep the situation as it is as much as Kimi is performing well. At the moment we are not talking with anyone.”
Should Raikkonen be replaced, it seems Valtteri Bottas could be a more likely candidate, with the Williams driver also a free agent in 2016.
“Bottas is in (the) future and by future I mean Bottas is interesting – like many other young drivers, he is performing very well,” he added.
Arrivabene admits he is wary of upsetting the atmosphere at the team by changing the line-up, but underlined the importance of having two drivers competing at the front.
“It depends on the performance with Kimi,” Arrivabene said when asked if the ideal situation would be keeping both Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel in 2016.
“Of course our goal is to keep the atmosphere we have without creating any unbalanced situation. But also we need the performance for the constructors’ championship, because for the points you need two drivers.”