Formula 1: Dream Lewis Hamilton landing spot ruled out

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by Michael Potts/BSR Agency/Getty Images) /

Still aiming for an eighth world championship, Lewis Hamilton won’t be leaving Mercedes to join Red Bull for the 2024 Formula 1 season.

It would have been hard to imagine with seven laps to go in the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that Lewis Hamilton would still be chasing a record-breaking eighth Formula 1 world championship in 2023. It would have been even harder to imagine that he would still be sitting at 103 career victories.

Yet both have come to fruition, and current signs indicate that it is more likely than not that both will remain the case throughout the 2023 campaign.

Mercedes failed to “get it right” when the new rules and regulations were introduced in 2022, resulting in their worst finish in the constructor standings since 2012.

After averaging nearly 14 wins per year during their eight-year championship run from 2014 to 2021, they won just one race in 2022, courtesy of newcomer George Russell. Hamilton’s personal win streak of 15 seasons came to a screeching halt, and he recorded his worst career points finish of sixth place.

In 2023, Mercedes seem to be just as far off the pace as they were in 2022, and talks about Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 future have begun to heat up.

Hamilton is, by far and away, the top free agent in the pending free agent class, as his current Mercedes deal is due to expire at the end of the 2023 season.

He clearly wants to win an eighth championship before retiring, but are Mercedes capable of giving him a car in which he is at least capable of fighting for it?

Hamilton has snapped at certain individuals for suggesting that he might leave Mercedes at the end of the year, but it is becoming more and more clear that there is at least somewhat of a sense of tension within the organization as far as his future is concerned.

Not long after he took aim at the mere suggestion of a potential departure, he proceeded to seemingly throw the team under the bus regarding the development of the car.

Sure, Hamilton says all the right things when it comes to supporting the team publicly, even later clarifying the aforementioned comments, and on the radio when the whole world is listening in after a tough race, but until the pen is put to paper, he remains without a Mercedes deal to compete past 2023.

And now more than ever, there is reason to believe that it’s by no means a foregone conclusion.

Interestingly, Hamilton has been in a similar situation before as far as his contract is concerned, though that was when Mercedes were far more competitive. After the 2020 season, Hamilton’s contract with the Silver Arrows expired when then calendar turned to 2021, meaning he was technically not a member of the team for a brief period.

He ended up signing a one-year deal to become the 20th and final driver confirmed on the 2021 grid, and he went on to sign his current contract, a two-year extension, during the 2021 season. There was really no doubt that a deal would get done.

But now the real question is where he would go if he leaves Mercedes after 2023. Ferrari have been the only team even close to Red Bull since the start of last season, but both of their drivers are under contract through 2024. The only other upgrades would be Red Bull or Aston Martin.

A move to Aston Martin, which currently appear to be the second strongest team on the grid, isn’t technically ruled out, but it would require team owner Lawrence Stroll to effectively sack his own son Lance, and that is about as likely as Hamilton moving to Williams mid-season and winning 10 races in a row.

The only other upgrade, however, has officially been ruled out.

There has been some speculation about Sergio Perez’s future with Red Bull, mostly based on the semi-perplexing idea that there is ongoing tension between him and teammate Max Verstappen, even though he is under contract through 2024, leading to the suggestion that Red Bull could shock the world by signing Hamilton to replace him.

But team principal Christian Horner has made clear that the team remain committed to both of their drivers, and the last time we checked, Perez is still one of them, even though it is clear that the two-time world champion is who they remain built around.

Even in the event that the Perez rumors were true, how would signing Hamilton resolve anything? Would it really be any smoother with Verstappen, who is under contract through 2028, and Hamilton sharing the same car? We’ve seen their history together on the race track, and much of it took place during their 2021 championship battle.

Sure, it would give Hamilton his best, and perhaps only, chance to win an eighth world championship, inherently making it something that he personally wouldn’t want to completely rule out. He has even said that the RB19 is the fastest car he has ever seen, in comparison to the rest of the grid. It would be silly to suggest that he would turn down an offer to drive it.

But as long as Red Bull are head and shoulders above the rest of the field and capitalizing on that advantage, why opt for a change? And even if they end up losing some of that advantage as the season progresses, it’s doubtful that a driver change would be the solution, unless we get to a point where a Verstappen-Perez pairing is no longer compatible.

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So at least for 2024, a Hamilton move to Red Bull is off the table. Will he re-sign with Mercedes, leave for another potential contender, or retire from Formula 1?