Formula 1: Is the Lewis Hamilton situation all just a publicity stunt?

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by James Moy - Pool/Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by James Moy - Pool/Getty Images) /

Are the ongoing negotiations between Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes for the 2021 Formula 1 season nothing more than a publicity stunt?

We are only about two months until the scheduled start of the 2021 Formula 1 season, and seven-time/four-time reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton is no longer a member of Mercedes.

The Silver Arrows seat alongside Valtteri Bottas is the only one of the 20 seats on the 2021 grid without a confirmed driver, as Hamilton has not yet signed a contract to return to the team for what would be a ninth consecutive season in 2021.

According to several recent reports from various trusted sources, the two parties do not see eye to eye when it comes to terms for a potential new deal, despite the fact that they maintained throughout the 2020 season and into the offseason that they were optimistic about putting the pen to the paper. In fact, they reportedly aren’t close.

Even with new one-third shareholder Ineos reportedly willing to cover what Mercedes are unwilling to give Hamilton, there has not been anything announced.

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As a result, the speculation is heating up. Will the 36-year-old Briton be back in Formula 1 in 2021? Is his time up after a record 95 wins and a record-tying seven world championships?

Will George Russell, the Williams driver who replaced him for the Sakhir Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit after he tested positive for COVID-19, replace him alongside Bottas following an impressive run behind the wheel of the championship-winning W11?

Those same questions have been asked over and over and over for the last month and a half since the season ended at Yas Marina Circuit in mid-December and the reported deadline for a new deal is the end of February.

We still have no answers or any true hints from Mercedes or Hamilton, and with each passing day, it is beginning to seem less and less likely that Hamilton will return — even if that is still the most likely scenario.

However, Bernie Ecclestone believes that this is by design.

The former chief executive of Formula 1 believes that this is all just a publicity stunt, indicating that a deal may very well already be done but without anything publicized.

Here is what he recently told Blick.

"“It’s all just show so that Lewis, in particular, stays in the headlines during these dreary weeks.”"

Hamilton recently posted a video of himself training on Twitter, presumably for the season ahead, and the Brackley-based team retweeted it.

The rest of his thread stated the following:

"“I’m trying to find the right balance in cardio and strength building. On top of that, lots of work ongoing in the background. Many moving parts but just checking in to let you know I’m doing good, I’m healthy and mentally strong right now in my bubble…I hope you are staying as positive as you can with all that is still going on. Keep your head up. I can’t wait to see you all again at some stage soon.”"

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The 2021 season is scheduled to get underway on Sunday, March 28 at Bahrain International Circuit with the Bahrain Grand Prix after the Australian Grand Prix, which was scheduled to open up the season at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday, March 21, was pushed back to Sunday, November 21 as a result of coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions.