Mercedes chief Toto Wolff has insisted people often get Lewis Hamilton all wrong. The Brit has won seven F1 titles throughout his glittering career so far. Yet his Silver Arrows team principal believes he doesn’t always get the recognition he deserves.
Hamilton’s future within F1 is currently up in the air following his failure to win the title last month.
The Brit was just one lap away from glory in Abu Dhabi yet, due to an incident involving a safety car, ended up missing out on the prize to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
It was a crushing blow for Hamilton, who was furious in the aftermath.
He’s been silent ever since, leading to talk he could be about to turn his back on the sport he’s been operating in for so many years.
Yet Wolff, when asked about Hamilton’s upcoming partnership with George Russell, has claimed Hamilton was dignified in defeat.
And he also claims the only thing the Brit wants is ‘fair competition’ on the track.
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“And if not, then we need these drivers to get our car back on the winning track.”
Hamilton, should he continue in F1 following his defeat to Verstappen, is due to be back for Mercedes’ car launch on February 18 ahead of pre-season testing in Barcelona on February 23.
Yet the Silver Arrows, according to reports, are contemplating their options behind the scenes if the Stevenage-born racer does decide to call it a day.
Nyck De Vries has been touted as their ‘main option’ to take over.
The Dutchman is currently the Silver Arrows’ reserve driver and his success in Formula 2, where he became champion in 2019, works well in his favour.
Stoffel Vandoorne is another option, having previously competed for Mercedes in Formula E.
And shock moves for the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Esteban Ocon and Mick Schumacher have been tipped as well.
Former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, meanwhile, believes Hamilton has chosen to ‘distance himself’ from Mercedes chief Wolff at the current moment in time.
“I interpret his silence as a way of distancing himself from Wolff,” Villeneuve told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“You can lose in style, instead Toto behaved like someone who plays Monopoly but, because he is losing, he throws it all upside down.
“For me, he [Wolff] has damaged his image, and Hamilton is sensitive on this issue because he is thinking about his future in America, perhaps in Hollywood.
“It depends on how good the new Mercedes is, whether it will be easy to win or not.
“Lewis is also a bit tired. He had quiet seasons after Nico Rosberg’s retirement, and he certainly doesn’t want to live a year like the last.
“He thought he could easily break records and that wasn’t the case, and then when you lose a title like that, it’s as if you had a diamond in your hand and then it’s taken away from you.
“It hurts much more than if Verstappen had led the whole race.”