Ferrari: Lewis Hamilton on 2021 F1 market 'can make us only happy'
Candid admission from Ferrari's team boss ahead of expected bumper transfer market next year; Plus: Wolff responds to Hamilton's comments and talks about his own Mercedes future
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 30/11/19 9:53am
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has candidly suggested that Lewis Hamilton's potential availability on the F1 driver market for 2021 "can make us only happy".
Like the majority of the sport's leading drivers, Mercedes star Hamilton's current contract runs out at the end of 2020 - the final season before 'New F1' in 2021 when cars designs, budget rules and sporting regulations are being overhauled.
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Hamilton's present contract runs to the same point as Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull's Max Verstappen, creating the prospect of a blockbuster driver market during the course of next season as the sport's leading teams make their plays to either retain, or change, their existing line-ups.
Binotto's Ferrari team currently pairs Vettel with Charles Leclerc but asked if he would like to sign Hamilton to Maranello, the Italian, sitting next to Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff, replied: "Lewis is certainly an outstanding driver, a fantastic driver.
"Knowing that he's available in 2021 can make us only happy, but honestly it's too early for any decision, so we are happy with the drivers we've got at the moment and I think certainly at one stage next season we will start discussing and understanding what to do."
Although Hamilton has often spoken about his respect and admiration for Ferrari, he has also consistently stressed his loyalty to Mercedes - with whom he has been linked to since the age of 13, first through McLaren and since 2013 at the German manufacturer's title-winning team.
Speaking at the Brazilian GP about his future on the back of clinching his sixth world title, Hamilton said he was ready to open contract renewal talks with F1's world champions.
"It's daunting when you think of it [contract negotiations] coming up because also you're committing to a period of time of your life and it's sometimes hard to imagine that far ahead," said Hamilton earlier this month.
"Of course, it's nice to be wanted so hopefully soon we'll get that sorted."
But the world champion did caveat that by saying he would not rush the negotiations and that he was also keen to understand what the future held for Mercedes boss and confidant Toto Wolff too.
"That is important for me so I'm waiting also to see where he is, where his head is at," said Hamilton.
Wolff responds to Hamilton comments and talks his future
After not attending Interlagos, Wolff was asked about Hamilton's remarks for the first time in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
The Mercedes team principal told Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz: "We have ended up on this joint journey at the same time in 2013 and the trust among us has grown. This is much more than just a business relationship.
"Within that group, it's not only Lewis and I but many people that I consider as being the core part of the team, and it's important for all of us to understand what we do in the future. I think this is what he meant.
"In the same way it is important for me to know what Lewis is thinking about the future and some of the guys that I deem to be very important. These are the discussions we are having at the moment."
Wolff has become the first team principal in history to oversee six consecutive drivers' and constructors' world championship doubles, with Mercedes winning an astonishing 73 per cent of all races over the last six seasons.
Asked about his own long-term Brackley future, Wolff said he was analysing the situation but at present it looked like "the journey's going to continue".
"I really like the job. I think it's a perfect combination of the brutality and honesty of the stopwatch that never lies and tells you whether you have done a good enough job or not, and the business side of things," said Wolff.
"But having said that, it's pretty intense and I'm always thinking for myself 'how much can I contribute?' I would never like to go from great to good, I don't want to miss that moment, so these are the things I'm thinking about.
"But I really like the relationships that I have within the team and within the Daimler board. So, all signs look like the journey's going to continue."